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In or out? Farmers argue the facts from both sides

We have heard from the farming leaders on which way to vote, but what do the farmers think?

Team Remain - Sir Peter Kendall, Farmers for In

It is clear British farming is stronger, safer and better off in Europe.


Part of the challenge for all of us is no-one knows what will happen if we vote to leave, but history tells me the UK have always favoured a cheap food policy.


On the one hand, we have George Eustice outlining some reasonable policies, but on the other extreme you have Michael Gove talking about cheap food and tearing away tariffs and protection.


That would allow UK farming to be decimated by permitting the dumping of low-welfare poor quality produce from anywhere it can be sourced.

 

Free trade


While Mr Eustice talks about a Free Trade Agreement, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson seem to be favouring a World Trade Organisation-type deal because they know they cannot get involved in the free movement of people.

 

That could be extremely damaging for UK farming.


They are sacrificing the potential option of a free trade deal because they know they have got to play the immigration card.


Mr Eustice argues Leave MPs would protect and support farmers but Leave MPs are a minority and less than a quarter have rural seats.


It is not even fantasy – it is delusional when farming’s vital support would be pitched against funding for the NHS, education and more.

 

Consequences


Realistically, that will be a struggle for any future Government and it will have devastating consequences for UK farms.


Couple that with the expected increased cost of selling our goods into our nearest market and the economic future of farming in the event of leaving the EU looks uncertain and bleak.

Team Leave - Michael Seals, Derbyshire farmer

We have an opportunity on June 23 to write a British Agriculture Policy. That would be the outcome of a Brexit vote.


Such a policy will require politicians and organisations which represent this industry to go back to first principles.


We can design a UK Agricultural Policy which suits our environment, enhance the natural assets we have and shape our farming industry.

 

Funding


David Cameron has clearly stated public funding will remain in place, though that does not guarantee the quantity of support nor the system.


It is fair to say the Common Agricultural Policy was generous in the past to UK agriculture, but that generosity is quickly diminishing alongside increasing interference, bureaucracy and inflexibility in a system which limits the power of the UK Government and Ministers to do anything but try to influence outcomes.


An exit from the EU, while it will not come about instantly, will ensure Ministers are free to develop policy and become accountable for shaping our industry.


During that transitionary period the industry itself must negotiate, find new ways of supporting the industry and lever funds from Government.

 

Trade


Our NFU and others will directly affect outcomes rather than being influencers in a European wide debate.


Trade with the EU and other countries will continue while there is a demand for our products, the common standards we have currently will remain, but can be ’Anglicised’ in their application.


My vision for our industry, one in which we have more freedom to farm, where government supports investment, marketing, the environment and technology. This does not mean the abolition of regulation but a substantial tempering and much less of a strait jacket.

 

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