Politicians Set To Reap What They Have Sown Over Farming Issues

UK - FOR the first time in years, it appears that the rural vote could be pivotal in some constituencies during next month's Holyrood elections.
calendar icon 3 April 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
However, Scotland is not the only part of the EU to be subject to election fever - France is set to choose a new president to succeed Jacques Chirac. Farmers' votes will be equally important in that country, which has historically shown an appreciation of its food producers.

That much was evident during the 2003 negotiations over the reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The thrust of the new CAP was to decouple support from production. The French government managed to agree on a package that maintained a huge degree of direct subsidies, especially for its specialist beef sector.

Analysts in the UK predicted that severing the link between numbers of cattle and the new single farm payment - the measure which replaced about a dozen former subsidy schemes - would inevitably lead to a reduction in the beef breeding herd.

Those opinions are now being borne out, with succeeding census figures revealing a decline in the number of suckler cows on farms and crofts.

Scotland has now shed almost 10,000 cows in just over three years and that trend is set to continue unless measures are put in place to encourage production of beef.

This contrasts with the latest French census figure from the official agency charged with compiling the relevant statistics, Argeste. As of the end of November 2006, the French suckler herd rose by 1.2 per cent to 4.07 million cows. This is the second year running when French cow numbers have risen.

Source: The Scotsman
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