photo credit: Sky News

Farmers worried over ‘lack of detail’ in post-Brexit plans

MPs on the environment, food and rural affairs committee have called for “more clarity on funding, delivery and timing” in its report entitled The Future Of Food, Farming And The Environment.

It follows a government consultation published on February, which should have provided reassurance about what will replace the current direct payment system for farmers after the country leaves the European Union.

Instead it left farmers like Tim Pratt, from Wantisden Hall Farms in Suffolk, feeling nervous.

“We are a big business. We need to plan machinery, we need to plan labour and we need to know what’s going on and the uncertainty is the issue at the moment,” he said.

The committee has called for ring-fenced funding, new support mechanisms for farmers and a commitment to ensuring welfare standards are maintained on products entering Britain.

Farmers currently receive payments based on the amount of land they farm as part of the EU’s common agricultural policy.

Instead they will be rewarded for increasing biodiversity, creating new wildlife habitats, reducing flood risk and improving air quality.

But the chair of the select committee, Neil Parish MP, wants more detail on how food production will be protected.

“We have got to make sure we have got a proper agriculture and environment policy as we move forward because it’s strong on the environment but not so strong on food and farming,” he said.

The National Farmers’ Union are also worried.

President Minette Batters said: “We absolutely embrace the government ambition that every farming business should be able to have access to world-class environmental delivery.

“I think it’s a very important area, but ultimately we need profitable, thriving, food-producing businesses.”

A Defra spokesperson said the UK leaving the EU provides “a historic opportunity to design a fresh approach to farming that works in the national interest”.

They added: “We have committed to match the £3bn in farm support until the end of this Parliament in 2022, followed by a longer agricultural transition period to give farmers time to adapt.

“We had more than 44,000 responses to our consultation which we are analysing before bringing forward an agriculture bill later this year.”

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