Gove’s reliance on farm tech ‘a triumph of hope over practicality’, TFA warns

Environment Secretary Michael Gove speaking at the Oxford Real Farming Conference in Oxford. Picture

Environment Secretary Michael Gove speaking at the Oxford Real Farming Conference in Oxford. Picture: AARON CHOWN/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Technological change won’t provide the swift answers UK agriculture needs to address its problems, a farmers’ leader has warned.

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tanant Farmers Association

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tanant Farmers Association - Credit: Archant

Responding to environment secretary Michael Gove’s Oxford speech earlier this month, Tenants Farmers Association (TFA) chief executive George Dunn claimed the hi-tech vision he laid out would not deal with the issues farmers faced now.

The Gove speech offered no practical plan to deal with issues such as productivity and labour shortages, he warned.

“Disappointingly, there was a triumph of hope over practicality in the extent to which Mr Gove seems to be relying upon technological change to provide the swift answers we need to address labour shortages and the urgent need to increase farm productivity,” he said.

“Also on the negative side, there was nothing said specifically about the tenanted sector of agriculture, and there also continues to be too much reliance on the market being the means by which we sort out our food safety and food standards issues in a free trading environment.”


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However, there was a “clear” understanding of the need for a sufficient period of transition to a new policy framework contained in the speech, he said, and suggested that it provided “a fairly firm view of future Government policy”.

He welcomed a government commitment to act as a strong champion of British produce at home and abroad, a pledge to deal with market failure in the food chain and a promise that no one entering into an agri-environment scheme today will be disadvantaged when new schemes are developed for the post Brexit era.

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Over the next few months, the TFA will be holding meetings throughout the country to gauge the views of grassroots members and others on the shape of future Government policy.

The roadshow begins in the north of the country on January 22 and will arrive in East Anglia on February 22, when it will be at the Quy Mill Hotel, Cambridge, details of which will be available at a later date.

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