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Europe fears cutting farm aid will see remote areas wither

Reducing farm supports and moving toward a more market-oriented farm policy is raising fears that remote communities will wither, according to a member of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee.

“There are genuine fears about land abandonment, village decline and a lack of young people in remote parts of the EU,” said Mairead McGuinness.

Policies such as the planned abolition of milk quotas in 2015 are causing concerns among some European parliamentarians, who fear milk production will end in disadvantaged regions, she said. European Union leaders were unable to reach agreement late last year on a budget for the 2014-20 period.

“Our real dilemma is that we do not know with any certainty how much money will be available for the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) budget post-2013, and more alarmingly we fear that cuts to rural development will be deep,” she said.

Owen Paterson, Britain’s farming and environment minister, said his country is the second-largest net contributor after Germany and needs spending cuts as it is borrowing an estimated 400,000 pounds ($651,400) a minute.

“Until we start growing wealth again, we are going to be reducing these programs,” he said.

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