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Farming: Tooth and nail fight promised.

A PLEDGE to fight tooth and nail for a fair deal for British farmers in EU subsidy reforms has been made by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett.

She said the Government accepted there was still unfairness in the current proposals for changing the Common Agricultural Policy.

Challenged by the Tories at Agriculture Question Time in the Commons, she said, ``I can guarantee I shall fight tooth and nail to get a fair deal for British farmers.

``We have no wish to see British farmers placed at a competitive disadvantage.''

She said ministers were ``very mindful of the fact that our voluntary modulation ... does go further than the commission's initial proposals and we are discussing this with the commission.''

Mrs Beckett was responding to concerns voiced by Shadow Secretary of State David Lidington, who asked if there would need to be a national scheme for ``modulation'' in addition to the scheme proposed by the European Commission.

Under the modulation plans direct payments to farmers will be progressively reduced between 2006 and 2012.

Mr Lidington said, ``The commission's current proposals already discriminate harshly against British agriculture, which will be expected to shoulder a much greater share of the costs of CAP reform than would be borne by farmers in, for example, France or Italy.

``To impose a domestic scheme on top of a European scheme would weight the scale still further against the competitive interests of British farmers.''
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 19, 2003
Words:239
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