Academics from the University of Kent have warned pulling the plug on farm payments without a well-considered replacement scheme could lead to the loss of around 250,000 jobs outside farming.
In a report published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, the economists suggested people working in small and medium sized enterprises in rural areas were most likely to be affected because farmers would have less money to spend.
The professors are urging the Government to create a suitable system of post-Brexit support to avoid this situation and ensure farmers continue to produce around 60 per cent of the UK’s food.
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Dr Alastair Bailey, who co-authored the paper, said: “Whilst it is true the EU CAP payment represents a very large budgetary cost and a large share of it is received by a small number of wealthy farmers, there are many farmers, particularly in territory where farming is hard, who rely heavily on the CAP for survival.
“Since Brexit will result in the removal of CAP in its current form, the UK has the opportunity to design a replacement subsidy programme which targets need and helps boost the rural and urban economic linkages.”
The report comes as the Conservatives pledged to fund farm payments up until 2022 if re-elected in June.
But the long-awaited 25-year food and farming plan was not mentioned in the Tory manifesto, leading to rumours any new system of support could be kicked into the long grass.