From the editor: UK has to keep learning and adapting to stay ahead


Next year will be one in which British agriculture’s place on the world stage begins to be redefined once again.


With Article 50 likely to be triggered in March and negotiations to get underway on a series of trade deals with the likes of the USA, it will be a pivotal year.


That is why Farmers Guardian has this week looked to other countries to explore what they are doing with their farming systems and support structures.


The Swiss example of heavily supported upland and mountain farms raises interesting questions about the nature of our support mechanisms under a British agricultural policy.


Will more money be pushed up the hill in the UK and, wider than that, will this country be at a disadvantage against others if we see our direct payments scrapped and theirs retained?


There is Australia and New Zealand, both subsidy free and operating with free trade agreements which see them ship huge volumes of produce in to the Asia.


Free trade will come under sharper focus for the UK, both in terms of imports and exports, but when we have such a trade deficit when it comes to feeding our own people maybe the answers lie closer to home.


And then there is China, a country which has already had a huge impact on the UK because of its ravenous consumption of dairy products which pulls the strings of an increasingly volatile milk market.


With its own agriculture in the process of slow modernisation, it is a vast country which presents challenges and opportunities for UK farming.


Yet while we look globally in this edition, our hope is we can learn from our farming competitors and partners across the world and achieve greater understanding of UK farming’s place on the global stage.


We have a fantastic farming industry in this country and one we should be rightly proud of, but we have to keep learning and adapting to stay ahead of the game.


And finally

Happy New Year to you all and a prosperous 2017.

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