NFU reveals three ‘cornerstones’ for UK farming policy

NFU president Meurig Raymond. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

NFU president Meurig Raymond. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has published the first in a series of reports setting out its vision for the future of farming – including its three 'cornerstones' for post-Brexit policies.

The report details the key issues the union wants the government to address following the triggering of Article 50, which begins the process of separating Britain form the EU and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Its proposed framework is built around three areas:

• Productivity measures and business resilience

• Volatility mitigation measures and management tools

• Environmental measures

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: 'The NFU and its members are very clear; we must use this opportunity to create the conditions for a productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector that meets the expectations of the UK public – producing safe and affordable food, looking after our environment and valued countryside, and contributing to productive and robust economic growth.

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'The three cornerstones we are proposing all work together to enable farming to be competitive, profitable and progressive and an integral part of a dynamic UK food chain. They would enhance the productivity and competitiveness of farm businesses, recognise and reward the environmental goods that farmers deliver, and mitigate volatility where it impacts commercial viability.

'However, the focus of the policy will be dependent on the deal the government achieves with Brexit. If the government secures a free trading arrangement with the EU, ensures UK farmers are not disadvantaged by future trade deals outside the EU, and ensures the industry's labour needs are met, then we can consider an ambitious new policy – one that is designed specifically for our domestic farming sector, involving a wide range of measures which focus on productive, resilient, sustainable and profitable farm businesses. If we get a bad deal for farming, then measures to manage volatility -–such as direct payments – will remain vital to help farm businesses compete in an uncertain world.

'Once we are no longer subject to the CAP, the government has given assurances that farmers will continue to be supported after 2020. We believe that farming should maintain current levels of public investment through this new policy framework, but recognise that in the future this may be delivered in different ways, directly or indirectly to farmers, for instance through fiscal incentives, environmental schemes or ensuring farmers benefit from cutting edge developments in research and development.

'British farming delivers on every level. In monetary value, for every £1 invested in farm support, farming delivers £7.40 back to the UK economy.

'Our industry is the bedrock for the country's largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – a sector worth £108bn and one that employs nearly four million people.

'We now need to shape a policy that promotes competitive, profitable and progressive farm businesses that can continue to produce adequate supplies of British food that the public enjoys and trusts.'