Farmers have been urged ’not to hang about waiting for Brexit decisions’ but to start work on making businesses fit for the future now.
That was the clear message from Richard King of Andersons as he reviewed the Oxford Farming Conference.
“I waited until well into the afternoon of the first day before anyone mentioned the word ’profit’.
"Although it was really interesting to hear Michael Gove speaking about policy and trade it is not as important to farmers as improving productivity and efficiency on the farm.
"As farmers you know what you have to do so why wait a few years? Just get on with it.”
Tom Hind, chief strategy officer at AHDB has been working on a series of Brexit related Horizon documents.
He said: “I could not agree more. Farmers should be taking action now to improve their businesses and not waiting to see how things work out.”
Mr King noted that capping of subsidies looks like being part of a British farm policy.
"Mr Gove certainly mentioned it but there was no detail. Will it be at £200,000 per farm or will it be at the level of the National Minimum Wage? Again we don not know.”
Mr King’s colleague John Pelham said he expected at the new British farming policy to be very different to the last one which was formulated 70 years ago in the post-war era.
“Apart from the very changed food supply situation the number for farmers has reduced by 50 per cent. And the number of farm workers has dropped by 90 per cent.
"It is a very different rural society with many villages having nobody living in them with a connection with farming. It is very different society and we have to realise this is not going to be food policy.”
A quick poll on the second morning of the Oxford Farming Conference produced an interesting result.
Asked by conference chairman Caroline Millar how delegates would vote if the Brexit vote was held now, the electronic poll showed 71% opting for ’remain and 29 per cent for ’leave’.
Ms Millar quipped; “Why didn’t you vote that way on the day. It would have saved a lot of bother!”