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Farmers must remain ‘number one supplier of choice’ to UK consumers after Brexit, says NFU

PUBLISHED: 14:02 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:02 08 May 2018

National Farmers' Union president Minette Batters during a visit to the Elveden Estate near Thetford. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

National Farmers' Union president Minette Batters during a visit to the Elveden Estate near Thetford. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

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British farmers should remain the “number one supplier of choice” to UK consumers after Brexit, industry leaders have urged.

There are now only hours remaining before tonight’s deadline for Defra’s consultation on what agricultural policy should look like when the UK leaves the EU and its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which regulates and subsidises farmers across Europe.

In its response to the consultation, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) outlined its vision for a “sustainable, profitable and progressive future” and a policy which will allow consumers to enjoy more British food, whatever their income.

Amid calls for taxpayers’ money to be spent only on rewarding “public goods” such as protecting landscapes and wildlife, rather than the current system of payments based on land ownership, the NFU said food production should also be recognised as being in the national interest.

READ MORE: Farmers must grasp last chance to respond to Defra policy consultation

The UK public benefits from safe and traceable domestic food supplies, agricultural jobs and investment and high standards of welfare and environmental protection, the NFU argues.

It has called for new policies which are fair to all farm businesses, provide a level playing field across the UK and with major competitors, and gives time and certainty for farmers to plan, adapt and invest in the future.

And it must ensure public investment remains effective in promoting productivity, helping farmers manage volatile market conditions and fairly rewards environmental action, the NFU urged.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “We are now on the cusp of a pivotal moment, as we leave the CAP and once again take sovereign control of our agricultural affairs.

“I am clear on what success will look like. I want British farmers and growers to remain the number one supplier of choice to the UK market, and I want British people to be able to enjoy more sustainable, quality, affordable British food at a range of different prices that suit all incomes.

“A future farm policy could uplift British farming’s ability to produce food for the nation, giving us greater security in the supply of safe, traceable and quality British food that the public trust.

“The policy could further enhance our reputation for high-welfare British food, which delivers for the environment, across the world.”

READ MORE: Farmers must act now on Defra’s ‘Green Brexit’ consultation, says Norfolk NFU chairman Tony Bambridge

Ms Batters said British farming played a “unique and irreplaceable role” in caring for the countryside and supporting rural areas.

“We’re making the case for a policy that respects the vital work of farmers as food producers, but also in delivering goods for wider society, and for this to be rewarded fairly,” she said.

‘GUIDING PRINCIPLES’ FOR REFORM

The NFU outlined the key principles which it says should be observed by the UK government during reforms of agricultural policy and the farm support system:

• It should be fair and equitable to all active farm businesses irrespective of size or system,

• It should seek to maintain a level playing field across the UK and with respect to our main competitors,

• It should provide sufficient time and certainty for active farm businesses to plan, as well as opportunities for them to adapt and invest, and

• It should ensure public investment in agriculture remains effective in promoting productivity, providing fair reward for environmental delivery and managing volatility.

• To respond to the consultation, go to the Defra website before the deadline of 11.45pm on May 8.


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