Since our report in 2015 (pre-Brexit), much has happened to affect our outlook on what is ahead for UK Farming.
- The absence of an ‘Agricultural Bill’, now predicted for mid 2018, leaves us all guessing how the Government plans to support farmers after Brexit
- The government clearly favors putting environmental issues ahead of Food Production, resulting in such expressions as ‘farming beauty’ becoming common place. This does nothing towards the crying need for quality home produced food for our growing population.
- ‘Plenty of cheap food out there’, ‘leave it to the supermarkets to source it’ and other similar quotes have been used by successive Government minister. But at what cost? And to what standards? And for how long?. Already concerns are current as to ‘chlorine washed chicken’ and poor meat products been a potential health hazard, and lead to illusions of dropping our food bills by £20 per week.
- Soil science and improved productivity should be at the forefront of Government policy. The suggestions that farmers drench their fields with chemicals is alarmist and untrue; neither is the assertion that farmers are depleting their soil by the use of heavy machinery.
- Food tariffs are a threat to us as a nation. Our Dairy & Livestock Farmers face tariffs of 30%-40% if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal. Government policy needs to put profitable farming, productiveness and progress as its centerpiece. Farmers in the fruit and veg sector need assurance that foreign labour continue to be available.
- Brexit provides the opportunity to build agricultural Policies. Certainly to address the payment of subsidies based on the size of an agricultural holding (as at present with EU support) is essential, as is the need to cut free from EU regulations.
- Inflation in the UK (as measured by the consumer proce index) is currently 3%, its highest level for 5 and a half years. Fluctuating Currencies, and weather disruption could only worsen the situation
- Will farming fall into dereliction eventually? Certainly if farmers are not incentivized to home-produce quality, value-for-money food, at the same time as looking after the environment, which they have proved themselves capable of doing.
Pressing questions for the Government to address
Will a free-trade deal be reached by the time the UK leaves the EU in March 2019?
How quickly can the Government enter into free-trade deals with other countries? We must bear in mind:
- Our Food and farming industry is now worth over 108bn
- Our food and farming industry now supports 1 in 8 jobs
- We produce less than 60% of our own food requirements
- We are a vulnerable and remote island nation, and reliance on imported food is a risk
- Call to action!