Promises of support payments until 2024 by Michael Gove at Oxford have calmed the nerves of some UK farmers.
While some welcomed Mr Gove’s promises on future support, others suggested his push for higher environmental standards in the UK would lead to ‘more imported cheap rubbish’.
Yorkshire arable farmer Alastair Trickett, who attended the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC), said Mr Gove had a habit of ’not sticking to his word’ and was happy to tailor different messages to different crowds.
He also suggested ORFC attendees were concerned investment would disappear if Mr Gove left Defra.
Livestock farmer and FG In Your Field writer Will Case, Levens, Cumbria, was pleased Mr Gove acknowledged farming needed a transitional period.
“He could have said ’you have until 2019, then we will stop funding and you either sink or swim’.
“I am cautiously positive.”
Jacob Anthony, a south Wales beef and sheep farmer, said Mr Gove’s focus on public money for public goods came as no surprise.
He said he was expecting to have to do something different to still receive payments and said it was ‘not a bad thing’ going forward.
But Scottish beef and sheep farmer Peter Kennedy, Glendaruel, Argyllshire, was angry at the suggestion current payments were a reward for inefficiency.
He said: “What annoyed me was when he said the payment was a reward for inefficiency. It was a huge insult to anyone running a farm in modern Britain and quite the cheek to say.
“It seems he has thrown everyone into one pot.”
Mr Kennedy was also unhappy Mr Gove had not recognised food production as the most important of all public goods.
Harper Adams student and Welsh young farmer Sioned Davies agreed.
She added: “I was pleased with some of the content but surely our future does not lie in either production or the environment, but the synergy that can be generated by the effective combination of both?
“Given primary food productions’ contribution to the economy, it deserves more recognition.”