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Opinion - Brexit means Brexit, we are coming out

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Charles Mayson, managing director, Cross Compliance Solutions

 

There must still be a few farmers who believe cross-compliance regulations are about to vanish as fast as George Osborne’s career.


Voting to leave no doubt provided some comfort for those who wished to deny and defy. That is, to deny facts and defy Brussels.


Denial first – many farmers voted to leave and to thereby deny the benefit of farm support, and to deny the advantage of tariff-free barriers.


Defiance next – Brussels is too bossy, we are gritty and determined farmers and we are going to defy the Common Agricultural Policy and all its non-democratic rules.


Well, the debate is over, Brexit means Brexit, we are coming out and the principal leave campaigners of Davis, Johnson, Leadsom and Fox are charged with securing advantageous terms for the parting.


This is smart politics on the part of our new Prime Minister.


“You’ve made the bed, you four, now lie down in it and sort it out”.


Three aspects require attention.

 

  1. What will replace the Basic Payment in, say, May 2019?
  2. What regulations will survive the divorce?
  3. What will we be able to export to Europe without suffering import tariffs?


Take the payment first. The promises made regarding farm payments have been made by those who had no authority when they made them.


I feel sure something will be cobbled together which will be short in duration and long in complexity.


Now consider the rule book. Regulations are centred around protection of watercourses and water quality, welfare and movement of farm animals, protection of soils, wildlife and habitats and reduction of polluting activities.


It is inconceivable this will all be thrown away. Tinkering yes, destruction no.


Lastly, take tariffs. Unless Europe bends right over backwards we will lose our tariff-free markets for lamb, beef and cereals.


While we consider what we have done the pre-Brexit rules still apply.


Reminders for your diary:


August 31: Ecological Focus Area catch crops must be established by this date (and retained until at least October 1, 2016).


Deadline for requesting a mid-tier Countryside Stewardship (CS) application pack from Natural England.


September 1: You can cut or trim hedges and trees from this date.


Start of closed period for applying organic manure with a high readily available nitrogen content (for example slurry, poultry manures or liquid digested sewage sludge) to grassland on shallow or sandy soils.


Start of closed period for applying manufactured nitrogen fertilisers to tillage land.


September 15: Start of closed period for applying manufactured nitrogen fertilisers to grassland.


September 16: Start of closed period for applying organic manure with a high readily available nitrogen content (for example slurry, poultry manures or liquid digested sewage sludge) to tillage land on shallow or sand soils which have been sown with crops on or before September 15.


September 30: Deadline for submitting CS applications.

 

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