DEFRA Brexit consultation must include all types of farmers

The Brexit agricultural consultation process on domestic and trade policy
needs to work much harder to be relevant and currently appears to be
overlooking large elements of the UK food and farming sector, say the
organisers of the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC).

The ORFC, now in its eighth and biggest year to date with 850 delegates,
half of which are mud on the boots practicing farmers, runs parallel to
the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) and was set up to challenge the
business-based dogma of the UK’s agricultural industry.

Conference Manager Nessie Reid said: “The issues that concern us at the
Oxford Real Farming Conference – production of healthy, nutritious food
that is good for society and doesn’t come at the expense of the
environment – are shared by the wider world.”

There was no escaping Brexit and speculation over its looming impacts, and
informal discussions among delegates on the conference floor included a
frustration at the lack of information coming out of Defra, along with a
desire to find ways to harness the unique breadth of knowledge contained
within the ORFC community and share it with Government.

An address from Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom MP to OFC delegates
was widely reported to have failed in reassuring those farmers in
attendance.

This failure was further intensified at the ORFC within the diverse group
of small-scale, family, organic and agroecological farms and food
producers, who have been overlooked in the consultation process to date as
the UK prepares to scrap existing EU agricultural legislation.

Nessie added: “The ORFC community is an increasingly powerful one, and
what we stand for is what the public wants: healthy food from healthy
farming practices. We urge Defra to take advantage of our delegates’
incredible knowledge and extend a facilitative offer to the Environment
Secretary to engage in meaningful consultation with this community, to
ensure a genuinely Great British future for our agriculture and land.”

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