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We should not be too demoralised by the Government position on standards

The Government’s failure to protect our standards in the Agriculture Bill was very disappointing, but UK farmers shouldn’t be too demoralised because they have high quality products to sell, says Andrew Robinson, head of agriculture at Armstrong Watson.

I have to say I am very disappointed that the Agriculture Bill went through Parliament with no amendments, especially when food security has been at the top of the agenda.

 

How many weeks is it since the supermarket shelves were empty?

 

I know from conversations I have had with others that the farming community feels the same way.

 

I feel very strongly that the Bill passing in its current form is a very bad deal for UK agriculture.

 

Questionable

 

It has no protection for the high standards we are required to produce to and it will allow cheap imports of questionable standard and environmental impact to flood in.

 

This worry over the Government’s intentions was further highlighted when it was indicated that Ministers are already talking about removing the tariffs on imports from the USA.

 

In effect, UK farmers are now going to have to try and compete on an even more un-level playing field.

 

The higher standards and welfare rules we happily comply with inevitably do mean extra cost, which imported goods simply won’t have to adhere to.

 

Pressure

 

This is undoubtedly going to put pressure on the UK farm gate price.

 

Added to this, the Agriculture Bill puts in place the removal of Basic Payment Scheme support by 2027, so it is easy to see why the farming industry is worried, as all of these actions will reduce income for an already under pressure UK farming sector.

 

Do I see glimmers of hope? Yes, but we will have to push them hard.

  • There is an opportunity to market our high-quality welfare product to the public, as a proportion of consumers notably do want it. Shoppers have the ultimate say on what supermarkets sell, and we undoubtedly have a great story to tell about the sustainable product we produce.
  • The new Environmental Land Management scheme will offer some opportunities to replace lost income, but at this time that seems a long way off.
  • Farmers will have to look at quality rather than quantity and produce what their farm allows.

That all said, we shouldn’t be too demoralised.

 

As one client rightly reminded me, there has been a flood of food imports into the UK for years and we will just have to keep producing our quality products.

 

Never has there been a more appropriate time to understand how each part of your business performs financially, and having a detailed understanding of cash flows for the months ahead is essential to ensure that informed decisions can be taken.

 

This article was originally published on the Armstrong Watson website


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Agriculture Bill amendment to ban low standard imports defeated in ParliamentAgriculture Bill amendment to ban low standard imports defeated in Parliament

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