To mark the first anniversary of the EU Referendum, Farmers Guardian has asked a number of key figures from the NFU to explain how things have changed for the industry over the past 12 months.
European policy adviser Tom Keen continues our week-long mini-series with an in-depth look at the UK’s future agricultural policy.
At the NFU’s future policy consultation roadshows last year, we heard first hand from members very clearly: despite the challenges, we must use the UK’s exit from the EU as an opportunity to create the conditions for a productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector.
The UK public expects farming to produce safe and affordable food, look after our environment and valued countryside and contribute to productive and robust economic growth. Central to this must be a new Domestic Agricultural Policy.
There has been much discussion about the nature of farm support after Brexit – not just in agricultural circles, but in the wider media and public discourse. There is a strong sense that it will be increasingly hard to justify area based payments made to farmers and landowners against a backdrop of competing public policy priorities such as health, education and security.
The NFU’s vision for a future policy focuses on a framework which enables farming to continue to deliver the goods that farming provides to society, supporting a future for farming that is profitable, productive and sustainable.
To achieve this, we believe government should maintain current levels of funds into farming, supporting a policy designed around three key cornerstones: productivity, volatility and the environment.
More productive farms provide more to the economy and are more efficient with resources. Protecting businesses from volatility, and helping them to manage risk in uncertain markets, is key to ensuring all farms can compete globally. And all enterprises must be able to implement measures, with appropriate rewards and incentives, which enhance the environment we all enjoy.
Domestic policy must however be placed in the context of Brexit. An outcome on trade, labour and regulation that exposes British farmers to greater competition from nations with lower costs and regulatory burdens will require policy far more focussed on combatting volatility.
However, balanced deals resulting in a level playing field will mean more can be invested in helping farms be more productive and do more for the environment.