With just two months to go until the starting gun is fired on Brexit negotiations and in a week in which the Prime Minister indicated an exit from the single market, Farmers Guardian can reveal its findings from a series of farmer-led discussions.
As part of its Shape Your Farming Future campaign, FG has toured the UK to speak to farmers across the industry about what they want for the industry after the UK leaves Europe.
With roundtable debates covering all different farming sectors, as well as an online survey about post Brexit hopes and fears, a number of broad themes emerged from the research.
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Despite the perception that the UK agriculture industry is not speaking with one voice, Farmers Guardian’s findings have been endorsed by several major farming organisations.
Farmer reaction: For FG’s first round-table debate, click here.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “Many of the issues raised in these round-tables reinforce the NFU’s priorities for the industry post-Brexit. Government must provide clarity on our future trading relationship with the EU and provide assurances farms will have access to a reliable and competent workforce.”
CLA president Ross Murray agreed. He added: “Farmers Guardian’s research and the views expressed by farmers on the key areas of concern for agriculture after the EU strike the same chords with many CLA members.”
The National Sheep Association’s Joanne Briggs said they had uncovered similar themes during their own policy work, adding it was vital that priority was given to active farmers ’who are taking the business risk within their enterprise and delivering a number of positive outcomes that we know taxpayers want around food production, environment and society’.
Farming unions from the devolved nations also backed farmers’ asks, with Glyn Roberts, Farmers’ Union of Wales president saying the findings from their own consultation were ‘identical to those revealed by the Farmers Guardian round-tables’.
NFU Cymru president Stephen James said the issues identified ‘strike a real chord’ with those highlighted by the union’s members.
NFU Scotland parliamentary officer Clare Slipper added: "Scottish producers are ready and waiting for the opportunities that Brexit can provide, but this must not be at the expense of the provenance of Scottish produce; nor result in cheap imports driving down standards of production."
FG’s research chimed with a study published by rural property firm Carter Jonas this week, which found trade and agriculture exports, along with farm support payments, were causing the highest level of unease.
It came as the Tenant Farmers’ Association used this week’s Lamma show to call on the Government to ’put more flesh on the Brexit bones’, adding the continued uncertainty over a future policy framework was hindering farmers’ ability to make long-term business decisions on land occupation, investment, cropping and stocking.
• Do you agree with FG’s research? You can respond to the survey here.