Letter: EU farm madness rages on

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your headline "Europe to end farms madness" (9 July) should not get readers too excited. The proposals are timely and more than welcome, but they are a long way from the radical reform that is needed. What's more, they still have to make it through the European Council of Agriculture Ministers, where farm madness begins (Jack Cunningham excluded, of course).

These proposals will not mean a saving in the agricultural budget and the EU will continue to pay vast sums of money to those who don't need it. There are no planned changes in the sugar regime which costs the EU around 2bn ecu a year. There are no plans to change milk quotas. We will still pour almost pounds 1bn into tobacco when 90 per cent of the crop has no market value. The combined cost of the olive oil and tobacco regimes is higher than the entire EU research budget. Have we got our priorities right?

The European Commission has come up with proposals they believe will be politically acceptable, and Commissioner Fischler should be congratulated on this. But save the celebrations - farm madness is far from over.


(Merseyside East and Wigan, Lab)