Farmers need to ‘bang the drum’ for agriculture to their MPs and the Government, not just ‘moan’ about agricultural policy, given the UK had the power to change it.
Money for schemes such as the Rural Development Programme was there ‘in theory’, but those on LEADER boards would now have to justify funding, according to Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee chairman Neil Parish.
The MP fielded questions from farmers at NFU Cheshire’s event at Bidlea Dairy.
Cheshire East councillor Janet Clowes, who sat on the LEADER board asked about replacing the European funding once the UK left the EU, which she said had helped small- and medium-sized rural businesses invest in technology and innovation.
Mr Parish said they would now have to justify its existence.
“I cannot guarantee the funding, what I can do is guarantee you a hearing,” he said.
He said for the past 40 years, the industry had complained about the Common Agricultural Policy but could not do much to change it.
“Now we can. But we must remember it now can be changed by Government,” he said.
“Be proactive, do not just moan. You will have to come and bang the drum, even if your MP is Labour or Liberal.”
Farmers in the room were concerned by MPs, such as Jacob Rees Mogg, talking about the prospect of cheaper food and clothing imported from anywhere in the world post-Brexit.
But it was suggested teaching school pupils more home economics and ways to manage their money and minimise food waste would help poor people more than increasing cheap imports with landfills ‘full of with food and clothing’.
“You can buy cheap food for a while. Eventually it will run out,” Mr Parish said.
“You have got the President of Brazil saying he does not care much about the rainforest. We have got to drive up standards in this country and make sure our imports are to those standards.”