The recent vote by the European Parliament to support a package of ‘reform’ proposals has been called a major step-back to the days of wide-spread intervention and protectionism by Conservative MEPs.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting of Herefordshire Conservative Business Forum, the Conservative Agriculture spokesman, Julie Girling, called the majority of measures “retrograde”.
MEPs had pored over the outcome of hundreds of detailed amendments and votes on the minutiae of the package, she said: "This was a golden opportunity so set up a fairer and less wasteful system but that opportunity has been squandered.
“In some areas Conservative pressure has led to better proposals but overall the MEPs have ended up approving something less fair for British farmers, less helpful to consumers and less supportive of the environment and biodiversity.
“The whole reform package needed to be more market-oriented and less interventionist. Instead we will continue to see French farmers enjoying much more favourable terms than their British counterparts. We will continue to see inadequate support and encouragement for more-efficient medium-to-large farms. Worse than that, we will see a return to the bad old days of butter mountains, wine lakes and rampant intervention which destroys any realistic market and punishes consumers."
West Midlands MEP, Anthea McIntyre, who hosted the Business Forum event, said:
“Once again the EU has failed to grasp the nettle of reform and has instead opted to turn the clock back to a system that failed farmers, consumers and the environment.
“The battle isn’t over. Although our task has been made harder by this decision, there should be no doubt that Conservative MEPs will keep working to achieve a better deal for our farmers, for families and flora and fauna .”
(Photograph shows Anthea McIntyre MEP with Julie Girling MEP and John Mercer, NFU Regional Director.)