A LEADING rural pressure group is urging the north’s European Parliament candidates to adopt its new vision for agricultural reform.
The Country, Land and Business Association (CLA) has written to 40 of this year’s northern MEP hopefuls to outline proposals for ‘widespread’ changes that would help farms and other rural businesses to prosper.
- A call for the rules governing GM foods to be relaxed to increase nutrition and productivity;
- A more equitable sharing of risk and profit throughout the food supply chain. l
- Developing a clear broadband policy embracing ‘ all technologies’;
- A reduction in European red tape; and
- More flexibility for member states to adopt their own agricultural policies.
The 12-page document - Enabling the Countryside to Thrive - has been published ahead of the European Parliament on May 22. Describing the publication as its ‘manifesto’, the CLA says it contains ‘practical recommendations’ to improve the north’s rural economy.
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Douglas Chalmers, CLA North’s regional director of policy and public affairs, said: “From the economy, to the food we eat, to the environment we live in, the EU affects us all. Our manifesto calls for widespread reform to enable the UK countryside to thrive.
“Rural businesses provide jobs and generate income. However, poor infrastructure and technology is a major frustration that undermines growth and we need specific policies to enable growth.
“MEPs need to recognise the specific needs of these businesses so that issues such as poor broadband do not stifle the rural economy. The world’s population is increasing by 75 million a year creating an ever increasing need for food. If this need is to be satisfied, MEPs must take a less risk-averse approach to exploring new technologies and biotechnologies.
“With 60 percent of people now living in urban areas, the cost of public services such as the protection of landscape and heritage provided by landowners and land managers in the countryside is often undervalued.”