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The real threat to ag is not Brexit, but Ministers ignoring rock-bottom prices

The real threat to agriculture is not Brexit negotiations, but the fact that Ministers and industry representatives don’t listen to farmers’ concerns about rock-bottom farmgate prices, says Cornish lamb and beef farmer Rona Amiss.

Having opinions is normally something I find easy, but even I’m stumped when it comes to the twists and turns of the Brexit saga. Still we have no idea what will happen next.

 

Down in our far corner of Cornwall, the tea shop has been busy all summer with many different nationalities enjoying our amazing scenery and cream teas.

 

Last summer there was lots of Brexit talk. Some positive, some negative, but all rational and interesting.

 

This year the discussing has stopped, and weary comments seem to be just to get on with it and take the consequences.

 

More heated remarks are reserved for the disgust of politicians for not getting on with what was asked of them.

 

Sabbatical

 

Maybe MP’s should have a mandatory sabbatical in a rural coffee shop. It seems they are so out of touch a dose of reality would go a long way.

 

I have never been a fan of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

 

I would love to farm without subsidies, but I carefully follow the latest set of rules to bank my cheque paid on entitlements as a new entrant I have had to buy.

 

In reality, these subsidies go straight to my landlord and don’t really support my business other than to pay an inflated rent.

 

With my rose tinted glasses on, I’m excited by a dynamic British agricultural policy that will have some sensible environmental schemes which deliver real results while supporting food production with high welfare and standards.

 

I want to see a policy that promotes our produce proudly and doesn’t just drive the price down.

 

Confidence

 

My recent ongoing argument with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) about their incompetence in overpaying my HLS payment doesn’t give me much confidence that a new policy will be delivered on time or effectively.

 

A no-deal Brexit could be brutal, but it could at least start a proper negotiation as I am sure Europe will still want to sell us oranges and champagne. Will farming and fishing be sold out?

 

I don’t think they will dare do the dirty on the fishing industry again, there is much anger against the EU over the current fishing policy, especially from the French.

 

Farming also gets lots of support, but not quite in the same romantic way. The policies are not so clear, so maybe we will be the ones sacrificing my dream agriculture policy to keep the EU masters happy.

 

Vulnerable

 

As a minority sector we are very vulnerable to political negotiation.

 

Our reality check is a trip to market where we see rock-bottom beef prices, rubbish sheep prices and the constant threat and cost of bTB.

 

These are the real problems that are worrying farmers, and they are not going anywhere, whatever happens to Brexit.

 

Maybe the real threat to farming is not Brexit negotiators, but Farming Ministers and industry representatives which are still not listening to our real concerns.

 

Rona can be found tweeting at @grassfedsheep


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People in Cornwall don’t fear Brexit, but they do fear continued uncertaintyPeople in Cornwall don’t fear Brexit, but they do fear continued uncertainty

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