The Sustain alliance – a group made up of almost 100 organisations with an interest in food and farming – has called for the next Government to maintain taxpayer support for farmers after Brexit.
The coalition is pressing for the EU’s two pillar system to be replaced with a new four-part deal based on payments for public goods; capital grants; free advice and wider policy measures such as an extension of the Groceries Code Adjudicator’s remit.
Vicki Hird, sustainable farming campaign co-ordinator for the alliance, said: “The next Government has a once in a lifetime opportunity with Brexit to end some of the absurdities of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy, which has not supported small and family farms well and which has contributed to a loss of farmland diversity and wildlife.
“Our alliance proposals present a practical way forward and a basis the Government could use for common ground between the industry and those groups championing the rural economy, conservation, public health and development.”
The demands came as a new study from Newcastle University showed beef and sheep farms in less favoured areas (LFAs) were more reliant than any other sector on EU CAP funding.
Rachel Lawrence, from the Defra-funded Rural Business Unit, said: “These are not one-off findings. The nature of farming in LFA regions and the added cost this entails is simply not reflected in the revenue farmers receive from agriculture, which is generally loss-making.
“This is why such grazing livestock farms are reliant on EU CAP funding, not just in the form of direct payments, but from environmental stewardship support.”