The NFU’s new Brexit chief Nick von Westenholz has said the union would be prepared to accept a reduction in farm payments if the Government is able to secure unfettered access for agricultural goods to the EU single market.
His comments are the first real indication of the NFU’s line of thinking on a domestic agricultural policy, which has so far been kept under wraps.
When asked by Farmers Guardian if the union saw a future for direct payments in the UK, he said: “Yes, we see a future for direct payments, if we find ourselves in a situation where farming is getting a bad deal from the trade agreements and the trade arrangements we have out of Brexit.
“If we find ourselves subject to tariffs and lower tariff competition coming into the UK, then farming will need support. It will need volatility measures to make sure that it can weather difficult times and come out the other end.
“But of course, if actually we find what we might describe as a ‘good Brexit’ in a couple of years’ time, then I think we can be a little bit bolder, a little bit more imaginative about what an agricultural policy looks like. It will still include some volatility aspects, but we would like to focus much more on things like environmental delivery and productivity than is currently the case.”