No Russian cyber-attack could do as much damage to UK farming as leaving the world’s biggest market under Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, says Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron.
Farmers Guardian is not supporting any political party in the December election.
We have run an article by Conservative Andrew RT Davies on the Brexit hub alongside this piece from Tim Farron.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be carrying articles from Labour, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Brexit Party candidates or members.
This General Election, like every election before it, is being touted as the most important of its generation.
Whether this is true or not, only time will tell, but what I am minded to say is this election is the most important when it comes to the future of farming in Britain.
If we see the election return a Conservative majority government, the consequences for agriculture will be seismic.
No Russian cyber-attack could ever do as much damage to the UK as we are about to do to ourselves by leaving the world’s biggest market.
The best deal we can get could only ever be second best to what we now have.
But the Conservatives’ deal is a world away from the best deal we could get.
Despite promises of easy frictionless trade, we have instead a Withdrawal Agreement which could put up trade barriers and tariffs to our farmers’ biggest market.*
On top of this, the Government’s plans to axe the Basic Payment Scheme and leave it three years to implement a replacement scheme could be the end of family farming here in Cumbria and across the rest of the country.
But all is not lost. The Liberal Democrats will provide a brighter future for British farmers.
We are committing to keep the UK in the single market so our farmers can continue to export their produce tariff-free to their biggest market.
We will continue our long campaign to reform agricultural subsidies – making sure British farming remains competitive, rebalancing away from direct subsidy and refocusing support towards the public goods which come from effective land management including countryside protection, flood prevention, food production, and climate change mitigation.
This would ensure smaller farms are protected and move support away from large landowners, while delivering a more localised agricultural policy.
We would encourage new and younger entrants to farming by championing different forms of ownership including longer tenancies, share farming, and community ownership.
And we will increase the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator and extend its remit to include businesses further up the supply chain, helping to ensure farmers receive a fair price.
Tim can be found tweeting at @timfarron
*Tariff rates are set to be decided in the second phase of Brexit talks, but if those talks conclude without agreement at the end of 2020, the UK could leave the EU without a deal at that point on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms