In a key meeting taking place in London today, the NFU’s ruling body will seek to lay out the core principles the union believes should underpin new British farm support policies.
The NFU’s ruling body is meeting in London today to debate its stance ahead of what could be years of fierce debate over the formulation of a domestic agricultural policy.
The NFU is set to have a key role in voicing the wishes of farmers as the Government negotiates the terms of exit from the EU and formulates UK policies to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The union’s first task will be to find consensus on the ’core principles’ for a new agricultural policy, given the diverse nature of its membership, drawn from across England and Wales and across the farm sectors.
The meeting of the 90-strong NFU council, which will be chaired by NFU President Meurig Raymond, will discuss what the union said was the ’important role government needs to play to ensure British farming and food production are sustainable outside of Europe’.
Mr Raymond met Liz Truss earlier this week to discuss the implications of Brexit for farmers, calling for guarantees from the Defra Secretary that the Government will continue to support farmers at the levels paid out in the rest of the EU.
Mr Raymond said: “Food and farming is of strategic importance to the country. I have stressed to the Secretary of State that the NFU is ready and willing to work with Government to ensure we have a profitable, productive and competitive farming industry. That work must start now.
“We must take this opportunity to build a new domestic agricultural policy that is shaped to meet our needs - a policy that allows farmers and growers to prosper while delivering the nation’s home-grown food.
“Getting the right results will take time but we need early answers to questions such as the future of support payments.
"We will be seeking guarantees that the support given to our farmers remains equal to that given to farmers in the EU.
“It will be essential that we are not disadvantaged during the future trade negotiations and government must not allow an open door policy to imports produced to lower standards.
“The Government’s approach to regulation is another key issue and members have already lost the use of neonicotinoids to control pests in oilseed rape crops.
"We now have a golden opportunity to ensure our arrangements are in future proportionate and decisions are based on sound science.”
Leading Brexit figures, including Boris Johnson and Farming Minister George Eustice, made a commitment during the campaign to maintain farm support levels at the rate paid under the CAP until 2020, if the UK leaves the EU before then.
This commitment was echoed by Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday, although he stressed future funding decisions on farm support will be a matter for the next Government, a point that has been reinforced by Farming Minister George Eustice and Mr Truss.