What will recent political and constitutional changes mean for farmers?

The momentous recent political and constitutional changes mean farmers across the UK will be looking with interest to see what the future holds.

Oliver Scott, farms director at Bradford Estates
Oliver Scott, farms director at Bradford Estates

King Charles III ascending the throne following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, along with Liz Truss replacing Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, will bring a significant shift in many aspects of British life, with the farm industry among those affected.

As Prince of Wales, King Charles made his views on the countryside and the future of farming well known for many decades, positioning himself clearly as someone keen on stewardship and care for our natural surroundings.

Having turned his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire into an organic farm, His Majesty has promoted the importance of retaining traditional ways of working alongside innovation.

With King Charles known to be 'hands on' on his estates, often seen out working on the land, many farmers will identify with him as monarch and will be pleased to see the throne occupied by someone who understands the challenges of farming in the 2020s.

Having been a vocal conservationist and an environmentalist, His Majesty will have to change his role as King, where more diplomacy is required. But it would be no surprise if there are changes to the way Crown land is farmed, with more focus on 'green' approaches moving forward.

As a farmer and landowner, King Charles will know well that there is no quick fix in farming. It can take up to two years to make changes to processes or land use which then begin to take effect.

The rapid change among the senior figures in Government, with Liz Truss seeing off Rishi Sunak to become Prime Minister, will have many wondering what will happen to changes in farming policy which were far progressed.

Farmers who had been working with the government on environmental subsidy schemes are waiting to see if, as speculated, the new post-Brexit farming programmes will be scrapped.

The environmental land management scheme (Elms) was, after lengthy consultation, planned to transform the countryside and make it more nature-friendly.

The idea was to store carbon and create a sustainable farming system that is resilient to climate change and less reliant on inputs such as pesticides.

Nobody wants to introduce schemes which do not work but given the extended time put in to shape the Elms scheme by all parties, including the farming industry, many will feel it is a missed opportunity if it is pulled and a new process begins.

The recent TV series Frozen Planet II has shown scary examples of how our climate is changing, which will worry anyone concerned about the environment.

Anyone involved in farming who is keen to see a more agrarian and environmental approach, such as King Charles, will hope to see more stability and continuity by seeing Elms through to implementation.

Oliver Scott is farms director at Bradford Estates

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