Part of a series from the Fresh Start Group on what Leave would look like.
What does Vote Leave mean for our Agriculture?
- We can maintain financial support to farmers, ensuring our food security and protecting our countryside
- We can reduce burdensome EU red-tape, saving farmers time and making food cheaper
- We can improve our access to fast-growing international markets for British food producers
Current problems with EU membership
We get a bad deal out of CAP. The UK contributes approximately £4 billion per year towards the Common Agricultural Policy, yet our farmers receive just £3 billion back.
It’s going to get worse. Countries currently lined up to join the EU in future have even less efficient agriculture sectors, which would result in our share of funds, currently seven per cent, dropping still lower.
The Red Tape has real costs. UK farming has had to pay £642 million in fines to the EU since 2005 (£7,300 an hour), for as little as having a ‘kink’ in a hedgerow that breaks EU rules!
Shoppers pay higher prices. A range of tariffs are applied to the import of agricultural goods from outside the EU, making us less competitive globally.
Immediately following Vote Leave
“If Britain votes to leave we would have to put in place an agricultural support system. I am very pro-countryside and pro-farming and, as Prime Minister, I would make sure that happens.”
–Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP, 11th March 2016
There will be a smooth process of transition following Vote Leave and as all EU law is enshrined in UK law it will remain in place unless repealed by the UK Parliament. As the Prime Minister has made clear, following the Referendum, support on agricultural subsidies would continue, protecting both our farmers and consumers.
New UK policy to be prepared for farming and agriculture that would:
- Continue existing financial support with payments made directly by the UK Government
- Continue to fund rural development projects chosen by the UK Government in consultation with farmers
- Reduce the burden of unnecessary EU ‘compliance’ rules on farmers
- Negotiate a free trade agreement. Europe will want this as they sell us €40bn of agricultural products and we only export €16bn to them. Irish and French farmers will be especially keen to see this happen.
Within 2-5 years of Vote Leave (depending on EU process)
The Government can improve the prospects for the agriculture sector through policies that serve the interests of the farming community, food consumers and rural society. Strong candidates for inclusion are:
- Alter the existing direct payments policy to address inequalities and prevent small farmers losing out at the expense of wealthy landowners
- Require better food labelling that clearly shows country of origin and animal welfare standards
- Develop private crop insurance schemes to mitigate risks of crop failure, insurance against income collapse along the Canadian model or futures markets to help manage price volatility
- Negotiate new free trade agreements with big non EU markets
- Bring in a system of ‘Transferable Farming Credits’, which could be traded amongst UK farmers to allow them to work together to meet consumer demand, diversity and environmental requirements
- Establish policies for intervention in various commodities such as wheat and dairy if prices fall enough to threaten the economic viability of farmers and producers
- Expand investment in science and technology in agriculture and facilitate joint working between academic centres of excellence and industry to develop technical advances and give us an international edge
- Promote animal welfare through grant aid or supplementary payments to encourage the development of welfare friendly farming practices