Farmers Guardian has launched a new campaign to allow farmers to discuss their views on Brexit and shape the future of agricultural policy in the UK.
Brexit has become the forefront headline on all news platforms since the UK decided to leave the European Union on 23, June 2016.
But with the UK not officially leaving the EU for two years, people have been left with uncertainty about what will actually happen and how well farming will fare in the ‘global Britain’ Theresa May has said she wants to build.
The British farming industry is a massively important sector. Its prosperity and health affects everyone in the country, not just the farming community, and Farmers Guardian wants to take the lead in ensuring it has a bright post-Brexit future.
Our Shape Your Farming Future campaign allows farmers from different sectors, across a variety of ages, to have their say on the future of British agriculture.
It has garnered the views of our readers through a series of farmer-led discussions and an online survey, which you can take part in here.
Now we want you to make your asks known to the key decision-makers in parliament by taking part in our question competition and letter writing campaign.
This campaign will allow you to have a real, practical impact on the future of British agriculture.
We will give you a platform to put your views to decision-makers in parliament through our question competition and letter writing campaign.
And as the Brexit process gathers pace, we will hold those MPs to account.
Farmers Guardian is giving readers an exclusive opportunity to put Brexit-related questions to four MPs who sit on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, including its chairman.
The MPs represent seats in England, Scotland and Wales and come from a mix of political parties.
The deadline for submitting your questions is April 14, at which point the Farmers Guardian team will choose the best 10 for answer.
To submit a question, send it in an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember to include your name and farm details.
You can also send written submissions, including the same details, to:
Abi Kay, Farmers Guardian, Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park, Caxton Road, Preston, PR2 9NZ
Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton
“Leaving the EU offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity for this country to redesign Britain’s agricultural rules and regulations. Defra is perhaps affected more than any other department by the vote to leave the EU.
“A new British agricultural support system will have to be created and funded domestically. A raft of environmental laws and regulations, from air quality to pesticides, will have to be refounded in British law. British food and drink could face tariffs to enter the EU market for the first time in four decades. The change will be enormous.
“As chairman of the Efra Select Committee, I will be holding the Government to account on all these areas. To do so effectively, we need to hear from as many people affected by these changes as possible.
“That is why I am looking forward to receiving a range of great Brexit questions from Farmers Guardian readers to help us kickstart this process.”
Dr Paul Monaghan, MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
“I am delighted to participate in the FG Brexit question competition and look forward to bringing a Scottish perspective to this vitally important debate.
“Brexit is being viewed variously as an opportunity or as the single greatest economic threat in living memory. Either way, we can be absolutely certain farming and the agricultural sector generally will be affected.
“From my perspective, as both an MP representing a rural area and as a member of the Efra Select Committee, it is vital crofters, farmers, suppliers and producers have the opportunity to make their voices heard and receive answers to their key questions and concerns.
“Whether you farm soft fruits, crops, dairy, beef, sheep and goats, pigs or poultry, service the sector or represent it, Brexit will undoubtedly create major challenges. I see this as an opportunity to engage with farmers directly and to learn of their concerns.
“This is an important initiative which will help ensure standards and future policies are shaped to meet the needs of the agricultural sector.”
Chris Davies, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire
“I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this competition and I am glad to see FG taking the lead on getting the public involved in the process.
“For me, it is vital policy-makers keep an open dialogue with the public – after all, we are their representatives in Parliament.
“My own constituency is a farming constituency and the biggest issue many farmers face is Brexit. That is why I have agreed to take part in the competition, to allow farmers to ask policy-makers the big questions they want answers to.
“Whether this is on single farm payments, access to European and global markets or even animal welfare issues, it is vital farmers have assurances from policy-makers that they have our focus when it comes to Brexit negotiations.
“This is an opportunity for our farmers. It is an opportunity to branch out and sell our high-quality produce around the world; it is an opportunity to revamp the financial support farmers receive; and it is an opportunity to do trade deals to help to make our produce more competitive around the world.”
Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge
“As a member of the Efra Select Committee and someone who has worked with many rural organisations over the years, I have some understanding of just how extensively Brexit will impact on the rural economy.
“Since joining the European Economic Community in 1973, British farming has felt keenly the impact of European decision-making and faces a very uncertain future.
“The negotiations which start once Article 50 has been triggered will shape the future of our agricultural sector for generations to come and Parliament will need to keep itself informed as to the potential impact on farmers, in terms of financial support for what they do and in relation to their trading relationship with European partners.
“As we start the negotiation process, farmers and others interested in our rural economy will no doubt have many concerns and questions about not only the process, but what the future may look like. It is therefore important decision-makers and those in positions of influence listen to these concerns.
“That is why FG’s idea of asking members of the Efra Select Committee to engage with its readers is a positive step and why I am more than happy to support it.”
We want to ensure the UK gets the right Brexit deal for farmers and the best possible agricultural policy outside the EU.
You can help us achieve this by sending our pre-written letter to your MP, which you can download here.
If you do not know who your MP is, you can use parliament’s website, here, to enter your postcode and find all his or her contact details.
[Your MP’s name]
House of Commons
Dear [MP’s name] MP,
I am contacting you to ask you to support the Farmers Guardian Shape Your Farming Future campaign.
Leaving the EU will have a greater impact on farming than any other industry. It is vital we get the right Brexit deal and the best possible UK agricultural policy to ensure the industry can thrive.
Readers of Farmers Guardian, including me, are asking the Government to:
Are you able to support the campaign?
Please let Farmers Guardian know by tweeting @FarmersGuardian with the hashtag #ShapeYourFarmingFuture.
Finally, I would also like to extend an invitation for you to visit my farm to discuss these issues with you in person. Please feel free to get in touch to arrange a suitable time.