Smith Hails Real Achievement on Farm Prices

22 October 2009
SNP MEP and member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) hailed a vote by the full Parliament in Strasbourg to back his proposal for the creation of a "European Farm Prices and Margin Observatory" with a budget of 1.5 million euro to report upon the gap between the prices consumers pay for food and the price the farmer receives.

The full Parliament enjoyed a mammoth two hour intricate voting session, during which the amendment to the budget was approved.

Smith initially proposed the creation of the Observatory with a budget of 3 million euro in the Agriculture Committee, and having gained the approval of that committee, was delighted to see the proposal supported by the Budget Committee, albeit with a reduced budget of 1.5 million euro. Amendment AGRI/5255 on budget line 05 02 17 02 was approved today, and the Observatory will now be created.

Smith said:

"I was hopeful this would go through and it turns out I was right to be. This is great news, and real action over an issue we have been talking about for too long without really addressing it.

"The first step to addressing the imbalances in the food chain and the difference between what consumers pay and what the farmers receive is to gather independent credible data. To date much of the information has been slanted, with pretty well everyone in the debate with a vested interest. I believe there is a wealth of evidence, not just grumbling farmers, that primary producers across the EU are being put out of business by the combined operation of the Common Agricultural Policy and the operation of a global market which leaves them at the mercy of any price decline, but not able to benefit from any rise. This Observatory will allow us to research into those issues with independence and credibility.

"There are no easy answers, and collating a view will be some task. But I will be meeting with the Commission officials now responsible for implementing the will of Parliament as soon as possible to make sure that this effort receives the priority it deserves. I have already compared the global food chain with the financial system, and do not think it is scaremongering to suggest that the food supply is under critical strain, now. We are in the process of fundamentally reworking the Common Agricultural Policy, we need proper data to do so and the Observatory should massively help us in our work.

"I think we had a good day today."