‘Great news’ as 44k offer feedback on post-Brexit future of farming

Environment secretary Michael Gove, speaking earlier this year at the 2018 NFU Conference.

Environment secretary Michael Gove, speaking earlier this year at the 2018 NFU Conference. Picture: SIMON HADLEY - Credit: Simon Hadley

Environment secretary Michael Gove said it was “great news” that more than 44,000 had responded to a consultation on the future of food, farming and the environment, which ended this week.

The results of the ‘Health & Harmony’ consultation, which closed on Tuesday, May 8, will feed into future farming policy, and the UK’s approach to the natural world post-Brexit.

Farmers, food producers and environmentalists were among those to share their views during the 10-week consultation, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will now be considering its future direction.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which says it sees reform of domestic agricultural policy as a “unique opportunity” to lay the foundations for a “sustainable, profitable and progressive farming and horticulture sector”, insists that UK farming must be at the heart of a resilient and dynamic food chain in Britain.

Farmers must be rewarded for the food they produce and the public goods they deliver, it added.

In its consultation response, it called for a farm support system that was “fair and equitable” to all active farm businesses, irrespective of size or system.

It also said the government should seek to maintain a level playing field across the UK and with respect to the UK’s main

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competitors, and allow sufficient time and certainty for active farm businesses to plan, adapt and invest.

The NFU said there should be public investment to promote productivity, a fair reward for environmental delivery and to omanage volatility.

Mr Gove said: “It’s great news that so many people have responded so enthusiastically to our consultation. Leaving the European Union gives us the opportunity to improve the support we give to Britain’s farmers. We can make farming more productive, improve the quality of the food we eat and enhance our natural environment. We’ll reflect on the many thoughtful ideas put forward in response to our consultation and bring forward our plans for legislation later this year.”

The consultation included proposals to redirect payments under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) which are based on the amount of land farmed to a new system of paying farmers for public goods, principally helping the environment.