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19 November 2017

King West

Food Production Post Brexit

Sue Hayman, Shadow Secretary for the Environment, Food and Rural
 Affairs, has warned that Britain’s
 food productivity will need to be boosted if the country is to compete in a competitive international market post-Brexit.

Hayman insists that Britain’s new domestic agricultural policy must assist in stimulating the country’s food productivity if the nation’s farmers are to compete in post-Brexit markets. She warns that the farming market should be prepared for both import and export tariffs to be imposed following Britain’s exit from the European Union. According to a study written by food policy experts from three universities, the UK currently imports 80% of its fresh vegetables and 40% of its fresh fruit.

In order for the British farming industry to excel in a more competitive international trading market, farms will need the correct support necessary to boost their food productivity. An analysis
by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) states that, were the UK to consume only home-grown produce, the nation’s larder would run dry by next August. The NFU also reports that the country only produces 60% of its own food, down from 80% just 30 years ago.

It is said that a crucial factor in providing better support for farmers will be a harmonious link between farming and the tourism industry. To this end, the government should invest in improving productivity whilst rewarding those farmers who successfully maintain the “public goods” such as the country’s “iconic” landscapes and “ecosystem services”. It is also recommended that a stronger food labelling system be implemented to point consumers towards home-grown produce and encourage them to “buy British”.

“Being an MP with a National Park in part of my constituency, I’m keen to ensure smaller upland farmers get properly rewarded for maintaining that iconic landscape and I’m keen to see how we can join up what we give farmers alongside the tourism industry,” says Hayman.

“To me, ‘public good’ should include maintaining our landscapes as well as how much food is produced and what farmers are rewarded for, such as tree planting.”

In order to protect the incomes of Britain’s farmers, it will be important that the support payments that they currently receive from the EU remain in place during any transitional period as the new domestic rules are put into place. At present, these support payments are provided, as part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in two ways: a direct payment linked to the size of the farm, or via targeted payments in lieu of specific environmental improvements.

“I think we certainly need to have it going forward for the transitional period. Large farms have become overly dependent on it and in some areas as much as 80% of their income comes from it [subsidies]. I don’t see that as being sustainable... but it is important not to pull the rug out from any sector of farming.”

Given the current indications from Government itis inevitable that the farming system, as it is today, will face considerable changes in the years to come. For this reason, farmers, and landowners, are being advised to prepare for these changes. If you require advice on future planning or are looking for further information on how Brexit may influence the British farming industry, please contact Harry Epsom in the first instance; hepsom@kingwest.co.uk. 

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