Speaking with Europe's agriculture commissioner, Franz Fischler, he will say 'Significant change to EU agricultural policy is inevitable and urgently needed within the next decade, but it is very important to be clear about what that change should deliver.
'Changes and new policy are not going to be cheap and there may have to be a real fight with finance ministers, who can't wait to get their fingers on savings from reduced support for agricultural commodities. It is vital to keep money in the countryside, ensuring that it is focused on real need and demonstrating value for money. That value must include sustainable environmental benefit and ensuring that people in rural communities are not disadvantaged by poorer services, for example in health, education and investment. Thus we can justify our ambition for a real 'Living Countryside'.'
Mr Simmonds also emphasised the need to develop and promote links between more sustainable land management and other kinds of economic activity in rural areas, such as tourism, forestry and small scale business and industry - producing goods and services which make best use of the great variety of skills and resources in our rural areas rather than focusing solely on agricultural support. Environmental schemes, he said, should not be seen as 'compensation' for production restraint, but as the building blocks to help farmers develop new kinds of production which place more emphasis upon net return, quality and regional diversity and less upon maximum volume of output.