Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Professor Millstone:

Part 4 strikes me as essentially being about therapeutic responses to crises that have already emerged, whereas I think it makes much more sense to have a more prophylactic, preventive approach, and to take measures in advance of crises to ensure stability. Although the area payments are decoupled, they none the less reduce total costs for producers, so they contribute to the maintenance of farm incomes and give incentives to remain actively producing food.

There have been mechanisms that have operated to stabilise prices in UK agricultural markets, which did not have the adverse effects characteristic of the common agricultural policy—the creation of large surpluses. The deficit payment system, which applied in the UK before we joined the European Economic Community, gave farmers a minimum price for commodities, but only for products that they produced and found a buyer for, so it stabilised prices and farm incomes but did not generate surpluses.