Time to Put Some Flesh on the BREXIT Bones

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is calling for greater clarity from the Government on its plans for replacing the Common Agricultural Policy after the UK has left the European Union.

Speaking ahead of the LAMMA’17 show TFA National Chairman Stephen Wyrill said, “With a little over two years to go until we are no longer a member of the European Union, we need to understand the policy framework within which we will be operating given the decisions that farmers need to make today about land occupation, investment, cropping and stocking. We have now had over six months of discussion, debate and analysis but we appear to be no further forward with concrete proposals.

“I accept entirely that there will be matters about which the Government can say very little at this stage given the need to negotiate with the other Member States of the EU. This will include what, if any, our access to the EU Single Market will look like and how we deal with issues such as free movement of people. On these issues, to be clear, the TFA view is that we need to broker some form of transitional arrangement on trade with the EU which provides reciprocal access to each other’s markets while we negotiate a bespoke trade deal over time and whilst having greater control over our borders we need to have a viable mechanism to attract skilled labour for farm and food processing jobs that cannot be fulfilled domestically,” said Mr Wyrill.

“Whilst respecting the Government’s difficulties in those areas of sensitive negotiation, nevertheless, there is no reason why the Government cannot be clearer on the policy framework that will replace the Common Agricultural Policy. Of course there will be a need to respect the responsibilities of the devolved administrations on whatever new policy framework is developed and to that end we need to see a much greater degree of cohesion in policy development between the four parts of the United Kingdom than we have seen hitherto,” said Mr Wyrill.

“In England we have been promised the publication of two 25 year plans, one for food and farming and one for the environment. Notwithstanding the TFA’s view that we should have one plan covering both aspects, we are becoming very concerned about the continuing delay in producing these plans. Understandably the plans were put on hold following the result of the Referendum in June but publication was expected around the end of last year. The ongoing silence is becoming a big problem for the farming community unity which needs to take a long-term view,” said Mr Wyrill.

“We need a new consensus for a post Brexit food, farming and environmental policy that will last and which will not be subject to the winds of short-term political change. We must consider the full landscape of policies and practices which affect the management of agricultural land including how production standards are developed and enforced, the operation of markets, taxation, tenancy law, risk management tools, environmental and planning regulation, support for research and development including technology transfer and access to land for new entrants, progressing farmers and allowing dignified routes for retirement for older farmers. There is a lot to do and we must get on with it” said Mr Wyrill.

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