An MEP has called for the creation of a cross-sector Government body to ensure a joined-up approach to agricultural policy making after Brexit.
Stuart Agnew, who sits on the EU Agriculture Committee and farms in Norfolk, made the demand for a ‘National Agricultural Group’ in his latest contribution to Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub.
He said the body was necessary to ensure policy conflicts affecting farming across a wide range of areas such as industrial strategy, taxation, health, trade, employment and planning could be understood and properly managed.
“A National Agricultural Group could bring into one place civil servants from all of the relevant ministries and agencies, and the devolved administrations, to work together on cross-cutting food and farming themes”, he wrote.
“This would break down traditional ministry and competency silos to bring a more coherent and intelligent approach to our independent food and farming policy.
“With a coherent, cross-departmental approach to policy thinking in food and farming, it should be possible to create a much greater impact for a smaller total Government budget.”
Two major farming groups, the NFU and FUW, told Farmers Guardian there was merit in the proposal, which could formalise existing structures.
But NFU Brexit director Nick von Westenholz cautioned against the creation of an extra layer of bureaucracy, which he said could prevent dynamic policy-making.
“Joint working across Government is vital if we are to achieve a domestic agricultural policy which works for British farming and ensures the industry is productive, profitable and competitive post-Brexit”, he added.
“The NFU encourages collaborative working across Government and is already playing a leading role to ensure that happens.
“For example, we represent farming interests as a member on the Food and Drink Sector Council, which aims to create a productive and sustainable food and drink sector.”
NFU Scotland said its priority was to ensure UK and devolved Ministers become more effective at jointly finding solutions, resolving disputes, minimising political infighting and making decisions over issues of importance to Scottish farmers and crofters.
To read Mr Agnew’s piece in full, click HERE.