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Post-Brexit agricultural policy: What farming groups asked for

With the Government’s flagship consultation on post-Brexit agricultural policy now closed, Abi Kay takes a look at what farming groups across the UK asked for.


Abi   Kay

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CLA

  • Apply equal reductions to all farm payments, regardless of claim size, and reinvest savings in the industry
  • Remove greening requirements during the ‘agricultural transition’
  • Set out public goods budgets and ringfence them for the long-term
  • Make sure any future schemes are economically attractive and fit with diversified rural businesses
  • Deliver future schemes through 14 local areas defined by Natural England, the Forestry Commission and Environment Agency
  • Address issues with the planning system to encourage capital investment
  • Provide funded training, mentoring and preferential loans to encourage new entrants
  • Ensure provision of public access is voluntary, flexible, time-limited and does not create any new permanent right of access
  • Develop a new national strategy for the uplands
  • Improve infrastructure, especially telecommunications
  • Tackle unfairness in the supply chain

NFU

  • Support farmers in their role as food producers
  • Keep the structure of the Basic Payment Scheme during the ‘agricultural transition’, but ensure funds go to active farmers
  • Apply equal reductions to all farm payments, regardless of claim size, and reinvest savings in pilots for new schemes
  • Make any future scheme is well-rewarded and as inclusive as possible
  • Provide British farmers with the means to mitigate volatility for as long as their competitors are being subsidised and supply chains are failing to deliver fair returns to the producer
  • Ensure the drive to increase public access does not disadvantage farmers
  • Recognise farmers outside of the uplands face their own unique challenges
  • Ensure all Government departments create the conditions necessary for profitable farming
  • Establish arrangements to ensure differences in agricultural policy across the UK do not interfere with the domestic single market
  • Set out a budgetary framework to provide certainty for farmers in the Agriculture Bill

TFA

  • Address market failures in supply chains to ensure fair returns to producers
  • Ensure trade deals do not undermine standards
  • Make the transition from direct payments at least five years to allow for the creation of a new suite of schemes
  • Cap direct payments at £100,000 during the transition to counter rental inflation
  • Introduce a new farm business development scheme, allowing farmers to apply for plan-led funding and Government-backed loan guarantees for on-farm investment
  • Ensure the new environmental land management scheme follows the principles of the old Environmentally Sensitive Areas, offering a tiered approach and implemented through active project officers engaging with farmers at a grass roots level
  • Include the Tenancy Reform Industry Group recommendations in the Agriculture Bill

NSA

  • Apply equal reductions to all farm payments, regardless of claim size
  • Ensure the ‘agricultural transition’ period allows plenty of time to adapt and minimise disruption – make it a minimum of five years after the UK-EU deal is agreed and the Agriculture Bill is passed
  • Improve farm efficiency through capital investment options and incentives
  • Establish a ‘sheep health scheme’ to support farmers to make on-farm improvements and reduce their carbon footprint
  • Offer incentives for farmers to work together for research, land management and marketing purposes
  • Avoid any disruption to domestic trade by creating a level regulatory platform with consistent movement and traceability rules and, within reason, financial support programmes
  • Use ‘earned recognition’ to simplify current inspection processes and reduce the role of the RPA
  • Maintain current budget levels for farming, land management and rural development, with an increased proportion going to active farmers

NFUS

  • Recognise the unique needs of the Scottish agricultural industry in any new policy framework
  • Respect the devolution settlement
  • Protect the UK’s single market
  • Establish common UK frameworks through mutual agreement between the UK Government and the devolved administrations
  • Ensure Scottish agriculture receives at least the same amount of funding as it does now, and ringfence future budgets

FUW

  • Give food production and caring for the environment equal importance
  • Ensure green aspirations do not plunge rural economies into depression
  • Make sure trade deals do not undermine standards
  • Remain in both the single market and customs union to protect agricultural trade
  • Take note of changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and how they could affect markets and competition, moving to ensure any adverse impacts are mitigated
  • Be more realistic about consumer priorities in new markets, given that according to AHDB research, more shoppers have a negative perception of British food than a positive one and welfare and sustainability are the two lowest consumer priorities

NFU CYMRU

  • Prioritise new trade agreement with the EU and ensure access continues to be free and frictionless
  • Ensure trade deals do not undermine standards
  • Arrive at common UK frameworks through mutual consent
  • Ensure funding for Welsh agriculture is not allocated through the Barnett Formula

SUSTAIN

  • Ensure the Agriculture Bill delivers public health outcomes as part of an integrated strategy which includes public procurement, mitigating climate change and promoting whole farm approaches such as organic
  • Tackle supply chain unfairness
  • Make farm work attractive to domestic workers and ensure all farm workers can make a decent living and progress in their work
  • Allow English farm workers to collectively negotiate on wages and progression
  • Ensure future policy protects farm diversity
  • Set out budgetary frameworks as soon as possible
  • Ensure the polluter pays and precautionary principles underpin policy
  • Protect standards in trade deals

NEW FOREST COMMONERS

  • Ensure any future policy allows New Forest commoners to work on one all-encompassing, locally-designed and locally-led scheme which will deliver public benefits at landscape scale
  • Put right the omission of lowland heaths and commons from the consultation. They are some of the rarest habitats and most popular landscapes, which face their own unique challenges such as creeping urbanisation
  • Ensure the transition does not bring about an abrupt disruption to commoning activities, learning lessons from the transition from SPS to BPS
  • Ensure there is a stock of holdings available to rent and existing holdings are retained
  • Improve transport and broadband
  • Ensure affordable housing is available in rural areas

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

 

The responses to the consultation will be used to shape the Agriculture Bill, which was due to be published in spring, but will now be released in the ‘second half of this year’.

 

Another consultation on a new policy statement which will set out the Government’s environmental principles is also expected ‘within weeks’.

 

The statement will underpin future policy-making, and Defra Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed it will contain the controversial precautionary principle.

 

Following that, next year’s Queen’s Speech in May will contain an announcement to bring forward an Environment Bill. This Bill will establish an environmental watchdog to hold the Government to account after Brexit.

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