EU Agriculture Committee Back At Work

20 July 2009
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today (Monday) taken part in the constitutive meeting of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, which met this afternoon at a packed session in Brussels.

Smith was confirmed as a full member by the meeting, and looks forward to continuing his work with and on behalf of Scotland's farmers and growers, having been on the Committee for just over two and a half years.

The meeting discussed the upcoming consideration of the mammoth EU budget, and the amendments the Committee will bring forward to the budget lines. Smith is committed to putting down amendments specifically funding the implementation of Individual Identification of sheep, which despite some minor recent improvements remains a deeply flawed package.

Speaking after the first session adjourned, Smith said:

"The opening session of the Committee marks the end to the rather protracted negotiations between the groups on who will be on the Committee and what roles they will play. The new Committee President Italian Socialist Paolo De Castro will have a tough act to follow in former President Neil Parish, but I look forward to working with him.

"And we certainly have plenty to do. The Budget is already looming and Brussels looks forward tomorrow to gridlock with farmers bringing along some 300 tractors expected to protest at the ongoing crisis in the dairy sector, which continues to struggle and it becomes clearer and clearer that the EU measures designed to help are in fact hindering.

"On the budget, we will be bringing forward a number of amendments, particularly to stop tobacco subsidy, end export subsidy and suchlike, but of real interest to Scotland's farmers and crofters will be our amendment calling on the European Commission to create a new budget line specifically to fund the implementation of Individual Identification of sheep. This disastrous package agreed to by the UK government years ago remains deeply flawed, and perhaps it will focus some minds if the cost of it would fall on the EU purse rather than industry.

"The Parliament has after all now twice called for the creation of such a budget, but so far the calls have fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps an amendment to the budget itself, the Parliament is after all the EU's budgetary authority, will have more impact.

"But it is good to be back in harness, I'll confess I have little time for the politics of politics and now the byzantine negotiations are over I look forward to getting on with the job."