With farmers making a loss in four out of the last five years growing crops, loss of direct payments would be a wake-up call, said NFU Combinable Crops Board chairman Tom Bradshaw.
Speaking at the NFU conference he said: “We need to look at how we can access support going forward. The UK Government will be solely in charge of that investment in UK agriculture.”
Commenting on environmental schemes, Mr Bradshaw said: “If we remain with an ‘income foregone’ approach it will be a race to the bottom. The investment looks as though it will be public money for public goods and we need to embrace this straightaway. If we do not embrace it from the start, we could end up with something not fit for purpose.”
He also emphasised the need for a level playing field with potential importers. “We need to be protected from imports produced to lower standards. Exporting our environmental footprint to other parts of the world is moral hypocrisy. We have an incredible environment in the UK to produce crops. We have to have access to that level playing field. Recently 125,000 tonnes of oilseed rape came into Liverpool from Australia and it is likely to be GM – that is simply not fair.”