Theresa May is on her way out of Number 10, but Michael Gove should stay at Defra to give the UK agriculture industry some much-needed stability, says Martin Lines, UK chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network.
As arable harvest rapidly approaches, and livestock farmers gather in good crops of silage, our thoughts are now turning to the autumn.
With the UK set to leave the EU on October 31, and the two Conservative leadership candidates both saying we could leave with or without a deal, we are looking at a very challenging time for the industry where we don’t know what future tariffs will be.
We must all take the opportunity this summer to engage with our MPs to explain to them why we need an orderly departure which will allow us to plan for the years ahead.
With the new Tory leader comes a potential cabinet reshuffle, so we may also have a new minister at Defra, but I would be really pleased to see Mr Gove stay on to keep some stability as we go forward.
He has really got to grips with the challenges we face and has a good understanding of how public money can be used to support farming in the future.
I believe the ‘public money for public goods’ principle gives us the best opportunity to gain popular support for managing the landscape, while delivering high-quality products and improving the environment.
One of the biggest changes UK farming could face post-Brexit is if food is allowed to enter the UK which has been produced to lower standards than those we have to meet here.
We have heard time and again that MPs will vote against a trade deal which allows poor-standard food in, but we need to get the public on side in this discussion and ask them to engage with MPs to ensure we maintain the high standards we currently keep.
The issue of climate change has exploded over the last few months and we must do more to reduce our carbon footprint as an industry, while also tackling wildlife decline.
To make the biggest impact, we need to act fast and identify the quick wins UK farming can deliver, then update policy and offer finance to improve the relevant infrastructure.
UK agriculture can play a major part in tackling carbon emissions and also capturing large amounts of CO2, but we can’t afford to sit on our hands.
The next few months could shape the future of farming for generations to come, so let’s ensure our voice is heard and we commit to building a strong farming industry, which produces high-quality produce while reducing our carbon footprint and protecting the wildlife we hold dear.
Martin can be found tweeting at @LinesMartin