‘Post-Brexit policy for agriculture must be better…not just different’

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has warned that the UK must not waste the opportunity afforded by Brexit to put in better policies for food, farming and the countryside.

Speaking at the TFA’s AGM in London, national chairman James Gray said: “As we move away from membership of the European Union, it is vital that we do so in a way which seeks to build a positive future for food, farming and the countryside – without unnecessarily demonising the policies of the past.

Not all our woes can be placed at the door of the Common Agricultural Policy. It is often the case that it is the way domestic Governments have decided to implement aspects of the CAP that have caused the most problems rather than the parent policy itself.

The TFA said it hoped the Government would put in place “sustainable policies” for food, farming and the environment to create resilient and profitable businesses working to high standards of food quality, environmental management and animal welfare.

“We need to use the current opportunity to develop bespoke policies which better fit our national circumstances and priorities,” said Gray.

“Simply removing direct payments without significantly adjusting other policy areas will be a recipe for disaster.

“It is essential that the Government takes a systems approach to policy and does not consider individual aspects in separate silos.

The Basic Payment Scheme may be a blunt instrument, but it is not without its merits in providing much-needed support for businesses who are unable to attract a sufficient return from the marketplace which is stacked against them.

The TFA said it supports the Government’s intention to bring forward the new public goods framework but stressed that this must be focused on active farmers.

“Any new financial assistance must only be made available to individuals who are operating units which are predominantly agricultural in nature,” Gray added.

“Payments must be directed towards individuals occupying the land used for farming, taking the entrepreneurial risk for the business decisions made and involved in the day-to-day management of the land.”