Brexit an opportunity for farming, says MP Owen Paterson
Brexit should represent a wonderful opportunity to boost a failing farming model, according to North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson.
Reacting to a speech given by environment secretary Michael Gove this week, the staunch Brexiteer believes the imminent exit could give Britain many opportunities within the farming industry.
He said other countries like France are missing out on benefits that the likes of the US enjoy.
Mr Paterson said: “Consumed by an overarching desire for bureaucratic uniformity, the Common Agricultural Policy is consigning the EU to become the Museum of World Farming. Its hostility to new technology, driven by powerful but misguided campaign groups, is causing European research to stagnate and agricultural yields to suffer.
“France, for example, is missing out on over 4.5 tonnes per hectare in its maize yield compared to the US, amounting to a total loss of over six million tonnes. That crop could be worth an extra £600 million, or France could free up half a million hectares for wildlife, recreation, or forestry.
“Brexit should, therefore, represent a wonderful opportunity to boost productivity outside this failing model. We should embrace the opportunities of innovation, offering farmers the greatest freedom to grow their businesses and consumers the greatest choice of products, while improving the natural environment.
“We should balance the precautionary principle – currently interpreted in the most severely prescriptive manner by the EU – with a requirement to uphold the innovation principle.”
Mr Paterson is against the Brexit deal that has been struck by Prime Minister Theresa May.
He was the MP to trigger a vote of no confidence in her before Christmas, and has again said the agreement will forfeit the UK’s regulatory independence.
He added: “The Withdrawal Agreement would forfeit the UK’s regulatory independence and see it yoked to the EU’s extreme technological risk aversion.
“For all the talk of retaking our seat on world bodies – the WTO, the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Codex Alimentarius Commission – what would be the point if we simply sat as supine rule takers from the EU?”