Farmers should seize chance to shape post-Brexit vision
Those within the rural sector need to make their voice heard to help shape the next 25 years following the publication of the government’s consultation on future farming policy.
"Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit" has been published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The consultation is the first step towards the new Agriculture Bill which is expected later in the year, and is the precursor to the legislation required to manage the transition of the UK agriculture policy leaving the EU and the Common Agriculture Policy.
The EU has shaped and defined UK agriculture over the past 25 years and this consultation and subsequent Agriculture Bill will redefine and shape the sector for the next 25 years.
It will be far-reaching and represents an opportunity to retake control, to set our own agenda, and create a sustainable economy for future generations.
The paper discusses three key areas - the transition from the CAP to a new UK agriculture policy, the implementation of the new policy and the framework of it.
There is very little in the paper about food production and food security, which is worrying. Notwithstanding the uncertainty surrounding trade negotiations and the outcomes from these, farming’s primary function is to produce food.
While a key emphasis in this paper is on enhancement and protection of our environment, the two cannot be looked at in isolation. The government should look to bring them together to incentivise farmers to produce high quality healthy food from an enhanced and protected environment.
This is a visionary conceptual paper, much of which we have heard before. It is vague in a number of places but that is because the government want us to guide and consult on this.
Let’s take this opportunity to actively engage with the consultation and get our voice heard on the shaping of the sector for the next 25 years. This is a once-in-a-generation chance to have a joined up, united voice and we would be failing current and future farming generations if we did not act now.
We need to urge the government to ensure that trade negotiations do not leave UK farmers disadvantaged, that there is recognition of the importance of food production and food security, animal welfare regulations are maintained, UK farmers have easy access to foreign labour and that regulation has a complete review to change the emphasis of it.
By Tom Heathcote, Fisher German chartered surveyors and specialist property consultants.