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From the editor: Letting farmers shape post-Brexit policy would make total sense

The biggest certainty of the next few years will be, ironically, uncertainty.



As negotiations with the EU heat up and Brexit Secretary David Davis squares up against Michel Barnier, the gap between the two camps in what they want from the withdrawal process becomes ever greater.

 

This is not to say that negotiations will not, in the end, favour the UK, but the confusion it causes for farmers in the intervening period makes business planning a difficult concept.

 

The news this week that questions are mounting over the future of farm support will cause concern for many, especially those in more vulnerable areas such as the uplands.

 

Many in rural Britain voted for Brexit, but the hiatus it has caused and shadow it continues to cast over the future of support payments may push many to the brink of despair.

 

This has been compounded by suggestions that all but skilled EU workers will be allowed to stay in the UK in a post-Brexit Britain. Great, some may think, but if many farmers and those in the agricultural supply chain, such as abattoirs, struggle for staff the ramifications could be huge.

 

The hope in all of this is we can head towards shaping policy which benefits the farmers of this country, rather than continuing to reside under the one-size fits all protectionist umbrella of the Common Agricultural Policy.

 

By making farmers part of the solution, rather part of the problem, Ministers could create a system which works for the industry, as well as the environment.

 

A great snapshot of a farmer-led approach can be seen in the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund.

 

By creating programmes which work for their businesses as well as the natural environment, farmers are creating buy-in for often maligned agri-environment commitments.

 

It highlights that farmers can be a positive force for good when it comes to potentially shaping legislation, rather than approaching them with a top down approach which creates animosity.

 

An open approach which allows constructive farmer input must be an option as we navigate the challenging political landscape of the coming years.


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