The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is calling for the Government to pause plans for major policy change for food, farming and the farmed environment.
It remains the intention of the Government to begin the transition to a new food and farming policy next year withthe UK’s exit from the European Union and the forthcoming end of the transition period at the end of the year.
The TFA has argued that a further period of reflection is necessary before significant adjustments are made, with TFA national chairman Mark Coulman [pictured]saying that the Government’s strategy for food, farming and countryside policy now feels like it was set in another era.
Mr Coulman said: “Everything has changed massively in such a short period. We all need time to reflect about how we respond as we re-map what our future looks like, not just domestically but globally. It might be the case that we decide to follow the same or a similar strategy, but we must give ourselves the opportunity to reconsider the best way forward.”
He pointed out that the leading edge of the farming industry has capitalised on the growth of the food service sector, out-of-home eating, convenience shopping and wider diversification, but these have all but disappeared in the industry’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with retailers handed the monopoly on delivering food to consumers.
In addition, he said that the Covid-19 crisis has underlined for the industry just how fragile it is and that we should take the opportunity of looking at ways to build future resilience for the country’s food and environmental security.
He said: “We won’t do this through slavish adherence to the plans we laid prior to the current crisis. Neither can we afford to jump to knee-jerk changes without proper consideration.
“Whilst there are voices suggesting that we need to scrap the current Bill, I do not think that is necessary. However, we do need to push back the start of policy transition from 2021 to at least 2022. At the same time, those aspects of the Bill around food security, the importance of food production, targeting active farmers and the operation of supply chains should be strengthened to be equal with environmental priorities. This will give us a firm basis for a resilient food, farming and farmed environment policy for the future.”