The government will shortly be making its decisions on public spending for the next three years and, in the next few months, will be giving its response to the Curry Report in the light of its own consultations.
As a member of the Policy Commission that produced the Curry report and as chairman of an organisation which welcomed its recommendations, I believe it is vital the goverment follows the report through. CAP reform is essential but, inevitably, will take a long time. In the meantime, there is much the UK government can do to bring about beneficial change.
One issue being bandied about at the moment is modulation'. Put simply, modulation is the reallocation of funds from price support to environmental schemes. The recommendations on modulation are important Â implementation of them would be a real and concrete sign that change is really on the way and it is time to take it seriously. But increased modulation will require government funding and we hope the Treasury will stump up the cash at the public spending review in July.
This was just one of the topics discussed at our conference this week on the future of farming and food. The purpose of the conference was to highlight and make sure that farming and food is looked at through consumer eyes. And also to discuss the steps we need to take to make the Curry recommendations a reality.
We really are at an historic moment in agriculture and food production in the UK. If we do not take this opportunity, farming will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis and consumer confidence in food is likely to plummet even further.