Suffolk farmers call for even spread of cuts to subsidy post-Brexit

Delegates at the Brexit agricultural policy meeting at the Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket, hosted by the

Delegates at the Brexit agricultural policy meeting at the Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket, hosted by the Suffolk branch of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) at the Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket, on April 18. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS - Credit: Archant

Suffolk farmers came down emphatically in favour of spreading cuts in farm subsidies across all farm sizes at a meeting this week.

Delegates at the Brexit agricultural policy meeting at the Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket, hosted by the

Delegates at the Brexit agricultural policy meeting at the Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket, hosted by the Suffolk branch of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) at the Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket, on April 18. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS - Credit: Archant

Around 40 farmers took part in a National Farmers’ Union (NFU) event in Stowmarket on Wednesday, April 18, aimed at gauging opinion on the government’s draft proposals for post-Brexit farming policy.

Included in it are proposals to gradually reduce subsidy payments after an implementation period of around two years following Brexit, which is set to go ahead in March 2019. A cap on large farms, or a tapered approach with bigger farmers taking the larger cuts are among the possibilities. But Suffolk NFU members unanimously backed an ‘equitable’ approach with an even spread of cuts.

The outcome of the meeting, which is part of a national consultation, will be fed into the NFU’s response to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) on its proposals, contained in a 65-page government document entitled Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit.

The NFU urged members to log their response to the consultation, and to get their neighbours to do the same in order to ensure farmers’ voices are heard, pointing out that the deadline was fast approaching.

“It’s for all of you to do and get involved in,” said Tom Keen, NFU EU Exit and international trade adviser.

“We might be worried about capping of payments but there may be no payments to be capped. We need to think about that, because we are not sure where that will put us.”

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The NFU would be putting forward a strong case for farming and food production, he said.

“From our point of view we want a very common sense future for the industry,” he added as he highlighted various aspects of the wide-ranging proposals.

Farmer James Black of Bacton criticised the government consultation questions as “very, very leading”. “I don’t think we should just be going back with answers to the questions on the consultation,” he said.

To log your views on the government’s draft policy, you can contact NFU HQ at Brexit@nfu.org.uk by April 27, and/or email DEFRA directly at agricultureconsultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk by May 8.