It’s alright, the French will look after you

My morning shave was disturbed this morning by a man on the radio explaining why we have no need at all to worry about the future of our agricultural exports in the event of us leaving the EU. Apparently the French farming unions will riot to make sure British farmers can sell to the rest of Europe, even from outside. The French president will then insist that the EU gives us a favourable trading deal.

You can file that next to the one about how British taxpayers will insist that the Government diverts funds out of things the British taxpayer doesn’t care about, like the NHS, welfare, education and so on, into making sure that the payments to farmers lost from leaving the CAP are made up. If you believe either of these ideas, then there’s a bridge in London I can sell you.

It’s not good enough for the outers to shout ‘scaremongering’ every time it is suggested that there would be some awful consequences from leaving the EU. What about, for example, the car industry we have built up over several decades by attracting in foreign companies keen to have an EU base? What about the great number of British people who have left to live in other EU countries, because being in the EU means we have the right to free movement about Europe? We’ve attracted a slightly smaller number of hard-working young people from other EU countries for the same reason. Those people are vital to our farming industry.

The NFU is right to ask what the plan B is. There isn’t, as Liz Truss made clear again at the NFU conference, a plan B. There is no coherent way forward. We can’t suddenly put in place something that will replace trading arrangements negotiated over a lengthy process that’s lasted since the 1940s.

This isn’t project fear, it’s project real world common sense. Farming is more integrated with the rest of Europe than any other industry. Farming has a lot to lose. I’m sick of the Brexit debate already, but we’re obliged to have it. And don’t listen to those who dismiss it as ‘Project Fear’. Now’s the time to be very afraid.

If I hadn’t been annoyed by a man while I was shaving, this editorial was mostly going to be about Farm Assurance. Our assurance system is a great strength of British farming. It’s something else the fantasists think is unnecessary. On assurance, and on a lot of other subjects, this issue of Farm Business is crammed with thought and analysis from people who know what they’re talking about. Enjoy the read.

Chris Lyddon
Farm Business

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