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Put food top of the agenda, NFU tells Defra in consultation response

The NFU’s response to the Government’s flagship agricultural policy consultation has made clear farmers must be supported in their role as food producers.


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Put food top of the agenda, NFU tells Defra in consultation response

Though the union acknowledged there was a debate about whether food production itself qualifies as a public good, it argued there are ‘clear justifications’ for public intervention in this area.

 

The consultation response listed five public benefits associated with food production – food security; a safe and traceable supply of domestic food; support for jobs, investment and growth; high welfare standards and environmental goods.

 

NFU president Minette Batters said: “We are now on the cusp of a pivotal moment as we leave the Common Agricultural Policy and once again take sovereign control of our agricultural affairs.

 

“I am clear on what success will look like. I want British farmers and growers to remain the number one supplier of choice to the UK market, and I want British people to be able to enjoy more sustainable, quality, affordable British food at a range of different prices which suit all incomes.”


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During the ‘agricultural transition’, the union said it wanted the current structure of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to be retained, with a focus on ensuring funds go to active farmers, but it refused to set an ‘arbitrary timeframe’ on the length of transition.

 

It also called on the Government to review progress no later than two years into the transition to manage any adverse effects and take account of the Brexit settlement and international trade policy.

 

Reductions in farm payments were given particular attention, with the consultation response making clear the union would be pushing for the Government to apply the same percentage reduction to all farm payments, regardless of claim size.

 

It was suggested the money saved should be used to fund alternative programmes and pilots.

Other key asks from the union

  • Make any future agri-environment scheme as inclusive as possible and move away from income foregone rules to ensure it delivers a fair reward to applicants
  • Provide British farmers with the means to mitigate volatility and improve productivity 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 by increasing their exposure to risk of livestock worrying and animal disease or conflicting with delivery of environmental outcomes
  • Recognise farmers outside of the uplands face their own unique challenges
  • Ensure all Government departments create the conditions necessary for profitable farming, whether through labour ability, taxation rules or the planning process
  • Establish regular, formal and co-operative 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
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