Fresh CAP start

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I have to disagree with Brian Henderson when he writes about the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

In his article (Farming, 4 May) he wrote: “Is the CAP there to encourage profit and efficient agricultural businesses or is it there to shore up and support production in areas and regions which, without help, would be unviable to farm and which would eventually wither and die – with the consequent collapse in employment and infrastructure in rural areas?”

For me the CAP needs to make a fresh start.

As a technical advisor to potato farmers in Scotland, I deal with a large number of very efficient and profitable arable farmers who quite honestly would be happy to see subsidies disappear if and only if the market was left to find its own natural point of equilibrium between supply and demand.

Subsidies distort the market. We need to see a shift away from supporting non-viable rural businesses and help to shift employment into areas such as green tourism and proven sustainable land use.

In the long term marginal land would serve future generations better if it were converted into semi-native forestry.

The idea of “wither and die” is emotive and misplaced. Yes, some businesses would disappear but new ones could be supported in their early stages.

This would help us make the giant step from subsidising agriculture as we know it, to building a rural economy with foresight and a long term plan that the next generation can look back and say: “That was the point where the real change started.”

Jim Aitken

Senior Technical Manager

Branston

Abernethy, Perth