Farm groups in England and Wales have called on their Governments to put future agriculture policy changes on ice as Brexit uncertainty continues to swirl.
In Wales, NFU Cymru has written to Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths to ask her to suspend the Welsh Government’s latest Brexit consultation.
In the letter, the union warned farmers across the country were struggling to give the important consultation, Sustainable Farming and Our Land, the attention it deserved while attempting to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
NFU Cymru deputy president Aled Jones said: “No deal remains a very distinct possibility, while the prospect of a General Election adds further to the Brexit uncertainty.
“The prorogation of Parliament and the decision of the UK Government not to carry forward the Agriculture Bill means there is not now a legislative basis on the horizon for Welsh Government’s future policy for agricultural support.
“NFU Cymru strongly believes it is only right for Welsh Government to suspend the consultation process.”
NFU Cymru’s call came as its counterpart in England demanded the UK Government delay its planned phase-out of direct payments, currently due to begin in 2021.
NFU president Minette Batters claimed it was ‘unreasonable’ to expect farmers to prepare on the timetable set out in the Agriculture Bill now the legislation has fallen.
“We are proposing the Government’s plans to move away from the current system are postponed by at least a year, to run from 2022 to 2028,” she said.
“We hope the continued uncertainty will not require a postponement of more than a year.”
The Tenant Farmers’ Association issued a similar call after Defra’s permanent secretary, Tamara Finkelstein, confirmed a new Agriculture Bill would need to be passed before summer 2020 if the current timetable was to be maintained.
TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “Creating a completely new policy for agriculture and the farmed environment is a major undertaking which should not be taken lightly.
“We need the time and space to do this properly. It will be much better for us all if the new policy framework is introduced well rather than just quickly.”