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Eustice welcomes Cameron pledge on post-Brexit support for farmers

Prime Minister David Cameron has laid out his arguments for why farmers would be better off staying in the EU - but his pledge on farm support has been welcomed by Brexit campaigners.

David Cameron has promised a Conservative Government would continue to support farmers
David Cameron has promised a Conservative Government would continue to support farmers

Farming Minister George Eustice, the leading farming voice for Brexit, has welcomed a commitment by Prime Minister David Cameron to continue supporting farmers if the UK votes to leave the EU.

 

Mr Cameron reiterated his pledge, initially voiced during a trip to Wales in March, in a letter to the Country Land and Business Association responding to the association’s calls for him to shed more light on a ’Plan B’ if the UK votes to leave the EU.

 

Mr Cameron said: “As long as I am prime minister, I would make sure that an agricultural support system would be properly maintained.

 

“However, I can obviously not make the same guarantees for future governments.

 

“It is unclear, for example, where some of my opponents, including Jeremy Corbyn, stand on the issue.

 

“We should remember that previous Labour governments have been in favour of either reducing key agricultural subsidies or abolishing them altogether.”

Trade benefits

Mr Cameron also insisted Brexit would jeopardise the favourable trading conditions with the EU, which many UK farmers currently benefit from.

 

Staying in the EU would guarantee farmers could continue ’to sell their products with quotas or tariffs to a market of 500 million people’.

 

He said: "We know that no existing alternative to EU membership - whether Norway, Switzerland, Canada or WTO - offers full access to the EU single market for farmers. All involve tariffs ad additional costs."

 

He said the only way to cut red tape, modernise regulation and ensure farmers had access to the workforce they needed was to ’lead the debate in Europe’, including on the CAP.

 

"Outside the EU, we would have no say over the rules governing our biggest export market - but our farmers would have to comply with these rules if they wanted to trade with Europe," Mr Cameron said.

 

He cited warnings by the International Monetary Fund and London School of Economics about ’major risks’ Brexit would pose to the wider economic growth.

 

“This would inevitably mean less public money spend and any future government would have to make its own decisions on what level of farm support it could afford,” he said.

Plan B

 


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Mr Eustice, the lead figure in the Farmers for Britain campaign, said: "The Prime Minister has made clear that the government will continue to support British farmers financially if we vote to leave, and I agree with him.

 

"If we stopped sending £350 million a week to the EU, we would save more than enough money to fund a national agriculture policy.

 

"While the official government position is that there is no plan B, I have done a lot of thinking about what a replacement policy would look like and I already have 9 meetings scheduled with farming unions and environmental organisations to work out a more detailed plan for Brexit."

 

CLA President Ross Murray welcomes the Prime Minister's response but said he had not answered all the CLA's questions. But revealed Mr Cameron had offered to meet the CLA to discuss the issues in person.

Passionate advocate

Mr Murray said: "The Prime Minister is a clear and passionate advocate of the case for remain.

 

"He is making the case that farmers that want greater certainty can play their part by voting for remain in the referendum. We respect his arguments and many farmers will agree with him.

 

"We also respect the speed with which he has responded to us. It is a significant reassurance about how seriously he takes the implications of this decision for rural people and the rural economy.

 

"What he has not done is provide the reassurance we asked for in our letter that Government has a plan for how it will manage all outcomes of the referendum.

 

"Our members are voters in the referendum, but they are also business owners and they are looking beyond the referendum and see significant uncertainty."



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