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11 October 2012 09:33:55 |

CAP greening 'will strain food production' say farming groups

Increasingly tight world food supplies mean that both UK and EU agricultural specialists should already be planning a rise in self-sufficiency and establishing structures that avoid the risk of retail shortages, farming groups have warned.
Under the CAP greening proposals, farmers will need to grow at least three different crops and leave 7% of their land fallow - a policy that critics say could damage food production in the future.
"Setting aside more land for non-agricultural purposes when market signals clearly point to the danger of fully guaranteed food supply soon becoming a thing of the past" said Hamish McBean, National Beef Association chairman.
Farming groups have been urging the UK and the EU to call of the greening plans and have been warning consumers that the most likely development is a strain on world food supplies.
Countries outside of the EU including Brazil, Russia and India all have significant capacity to raise their agricultural output.
But, proposal to leave 7% of land fallow, in areas to be named "ecological focus areas" (EFAs), had "the greatest potential to deliver significant environmental benefits", a Commons committee report said.
“However nothing can be done to stop on-going world population expansion and the margins between adequate food supplies, even for western countries, and a visible shortage of basic food products are already uncomfortably tight” McBean said.
“We are not being alarmist but we are saying that EU and UK attitudes to food production are still being shaped by problems created by recent surplus and not by increased anticipation that sooner, rather than later, even rich western countries will need to work harder to ensure their populations can continue to anticipate there being a full range of food products for their plates.”
“Members of our Association are aware that cattle numbers are shrinking at the same time as the second poor world harvest in four years has driven feed grain prices through the roof.”
“And they are saying that these twin problems can only be countered if more land in the UK and the EU is put down to cereals and more grassland on the margins is made available for cattle and sheep.”
“This cannot be done if the European Commission continues to pursue its greening plans and even more, increasingly important, land is taken out of food production.”


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