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Farming Matters: Phil Latham - 'Is Farage the man to sort the Brexit impasse?'

As Theresa May steps down from her role, we have a presidential visit from Donald Trump.

 

He arrives to save the day and give us some advice on who should be the next Prime Minister and who should negotiate our new relationship with Europe.

His chosen envoy would be Nigel Farage, a man who heads up a company without any democratic processes in place to ensure he is accountable.

 

He does not have a party manifesto, but a large number of people love his no nonsense, single-issue focus on telling the EU we have had enough of it.

 

Here is a man who has never been an MP, failing to reach the Commons on multiple occasions. But he has been an MEP, and he hardly ever turned up to meetings to discuss fisheries, for which he was responsible.

 

Detail

 

He is a self-publicist, elitist, millionaire masquerading as a man of the people; thin-skinned and prone to anger when probed on detail.

 

He certainly does not represent me. I have no doubt behind the pomp of this week there will be backroom conversations covering all sorts of topics that would be included in a free trade agreement with the US.

 

The future of our NHS and farming will depend on these conversations.

 

I cannot see an upside for farming to our changing relationship when the rhetoric is still about cheap food. I expect we will lose what we gain in market access if we accept products from the US that would not normally be allowed into the EU.


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Problematic

 

Already, we have seen the tariffs for a no-deal scenario and they look seriously problematic for our sector. For us to continue to export cheddar into the EU, we would have to drop the milk price to farmers in the order of 14ppl, a 50 per cent drop in price.

 

To add to my frustrations, the Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC), which advises on migration priorities post-Brexit, has produced its own report which fails to recognise the concerns of farmers about access to labour.

 

It did not have the evidence to back up the claim that there was a problem apparently for dairy staff.

 

I know this is nonsense. I see it on my farm, I talk to dairy farmers struggling with staff shortages, I listened to recruitment firms express their concerns at the MAC meeting I was present at and I have been in two NFU meetings with the Home Office where concerns were expressed.

 

It is a yes to chefs and dancers, but no to us.

 

This selective deafness is a concern, as I dare say it may apply to other Government functions too. I expect some myopia might creep in when support is reduced and farm enterprises struggle to compete with product coming in tariff-free.

 

As long as people are fed and politicians can claim to have reduced migration, they will trumpet that as success.

 

Wrapping our products in a Union Jack with elevated welfare will not be a route to survival, we will have to adapt and cut production costs. Buckle up, we are in for bumpy ride.

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