National Trust plan for Brexit only one leg of the stool

The Tenant Farmers Association has said that the National Trust’s vision for a post Brexit agricultural policy is like a one leg stool.

TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said “The National Trust has focused on the need to ensure that there is support only for environmental outcomes in the post Brexit environment. The TFA agrees that around a third of the current annual budget spent through the CAP should be earmarked for a brand-new, outcome focused agri-environment scheme which rewards active farmers for their labour, management and investment in managing land for biodiversity, landscape and nature. However, this is only one part of what is required”.

The TFA’s post Brexit agricultural policy, published in April and updated in June, argues for three distinct elements of a new policy which adds business resilience and market development alongside a package of agri-environment measures.

“Post Brexit Government policy for agriculture must address all of the market failures that exist and not just the provision of environmental public goods. The declining share of national income spent on primary food products, the structure of food marketing creating an unfair trading platform for farmers, long-term food security and uneven production standards all need to be addressed. Focusing only on domestic environmental outcomes would be a huge mistake,” said Mr Dunn.

“We need a farm business development grant scheme providing capped funding for farmers to assist with the implementation of approved plans for greater business resilience covering fixed equipment, cost reduction initiatives, additional processing capacity, diversification, marketing, cooperative initiatives, producer organisations, climate change adaptation and environmental improvement,” said Mr Dunn.

“Finally, we also need a package of near market research and development, technology transfer, promotion, market development, brand development and other supply chain initiatives focused on supporting British produced food. We must also see a greater degree of public procurement of British food and a requirement for all food sold in Britain to meet at least Red Tractor standards. Where imported product is unable to meet those standards we must substitute those imports with home produced products. Without this, we merely export our environmental, animal welfare and consumer safety problems abroad,” said Mr Dunn.

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