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Labour commits to direct payments to encourage food production after Brexit

Shadow Defra Secretary Sue Hayman has committed to maintaining some form of direct payment after Brexit.

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Labour commits to direct payments to encourage food production after Brexit

Ms Hayman made the remarks in response to a question from Farmers Guardian at an NFU event at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.

 

Asked whether she would retain direct payments to ensure English farmers could compete in a global marketplace and manage volatility, she said: “Yes, we do want to retain some form of payment in the future.

 

“We are looking at exactly what that is going to look like at the moment, but yes, absolutely we do.”

 

In a later conversation with FG, Ms Hayman rejected the suggestion she wanted to ‘just give money for land’.

 

“When you are looking at public payments for public goods, that has to include food, because the security of our food supply is beyond a public good, it is a moral imperative,” she said.

 

“We have to look at how any payments we are making encourage the production of high-quality, nutritious food.”


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The Labour Party is still working on the exact shape these payments would take as part of its new food strategy, expected to be published in the ‘coming months’.

 

The strategy will look at food production and security and its importance to the rural economy and relationship to health.

 

Farming groups will be consulted on the proposed measures, with the aim of feeding the work into Labour Party amendments to the Agriculture Bill.

 

The new position of the English Labour Party on direct payments is at odds with the Welsh Labour Government stance.

 

Earlier this month, Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths angered the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) by branding their campaign to maintain direct payments ‘misleading’ in an open letter to all farmers.

Both NFU Cymru and the FUW are fighting hard to keep some form of direct payment after Brexit.

 

NFU Cymru president John Davies was in the audience when Ms Hayman explained the Labour Party position in England.

 

He told FG he would be seeking clarity from Welsh Ministers in light of her remarks.

 

He said: “This is very pleasing, because it aligns with what we have been asking for. It gives people the confidence to invest in resilience and the environment and gives flexibility when we do not know what a trade deal will look like.”

Other snippets heard at conference

Take farming cash and spend it on broadband

 

Labour Keighley MP and Efra committee member John Grogan called for £1bn out of the £3bn annual agriculture budget to be redirected to rural broadband.

 

Speaking at an event hosted by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the CLA, he said: “Let’s take £1bn out and put it into rural broadband which would help a lot more people and regenerate those rural economies.”

 

Public won’t accept ‘golden parachute’ payments

 

Vicki Hird, farming campaign co-ordinator at Sustain, hit out at the ‘golden parachute’ payments proposed in the Agriculture Bill, suggesting they ‘would not get public acceptance’.

 

“Can you imagine how much money Dyson will get if he decides to take it like that?” she asked audience members at a Socialist Environment and Resources Association (SERA) event.

 

Demands to ban ‘mega farms’

 

Oli Rodker, a director at the Land Workers’ Alliance, demanded ‘mega farms’ be banned during the CPRE-CLA event – though he could not provide a definition of a mega farm.

 

He said: “I do not see any reason why we cannot just ban these mega farms which are causing environmental damage and only bringing economic benefit to very few people.”

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