What will happen to UK farm subsidies as farmers find themselves caught in Brexit crisis ‘trap’?
- Credit: citizenside.com
UK farmers fear they may be left without a subsidy safety net as the Brexit crisis deepens.
The industry has been depending on the Agriculture Bill to settle its future after the UK leaves the European Union (EU) and thus the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) - which sets the farm subsidy regime.
But farmers are becoming increasingly worried after the bill's progress stalled because the government failed to carry it forward into the next session of parliament, leaving them in limbo over what will replace the CAP.
MORE - Signs positive for sugar beet crop as campaign gets under wayNow the National Farmers' Union (NFU) is calling on the government to delay its planned phasing out of farm support payments.
Suffolk NFU branch chair Glenn Buckingham said farming - while resilient - was a long term business where change happens slowly.
"We are caught in a trap waiting to be released. There are many production issues to deal with, let alone pondering over a delayed Agriculture Bill," he said.
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"We have seen dithering over Brexit. Without that matter resolved, it's difficult to know how the Agriculture Bill can be delivered. We know that earlier this year, (former environment secretary) Michael Gove handed back the Environmental Land Management (ELMS) scheme to his civil servants in the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and said, yes it looks good, but are we sure this is the only way to deliver support for its aims to land managers?"
The NFU would hold prime minister Boris Johnson to his promise to provide farm support to deal with tariffs in a no-deal scenario, he said, but asked now a no-deal situation would affect farmers' current support package.
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NFU president Minette Batters said it was "unreasonable" to continue to plan for the phasing out of the current system - due to phase out farm support payments from 2021 - on the present timetable.
"With the fall of the Agriculture Bill, there is no guarantee at all that the legislation will be in place to enable the government to begin its planned transition to a new farm support system in 2021," she said.
"It is totally unreasonable to keep farmers in a state of uncertainty about what system might be in place from 2021. We are proposing the government's plans to move away from the current system are postponed by at least a year, to run from 2022 to 2028."
Leaving without a deal would cause "huge economic disruption", with farms struggling to remain viable," she warned.
"If we are to make a success of farming in the UK after Brexit, then its critical we get it right," she said.