UK agriculture is “heavily constrained by the EU” and is “held back” by EU prejudice against advanced technology and science, former Defra Secretary of State, Owen Paterson MP, has said.
In a debate also featuring the EU’s Agricultural Commissioner, Phil Hogan, at the Oxford Farming Conference today, Norfolk MP Mr Paterson said he believed the nation’s farming industry would be better off outside the EU.
He referred to Europe as becoming “the museum of world farming” due in part, he believes, to the “obstinate refusal” of the EU to adopt advances in technology.
And a Uk exit would not restrain the Uk’s ability to trade in the global market, he said.
“I have talked to the US and they would do a deal with us. There is a real interest in working with a sovereign UK,” Mr Paterson said.
In response, Commissioner Hogan said he recognised more could be done when it came to technology and science, saying: “There is recognition in the EU that we need to do more and science is back at centre stage. We need to do more to enshrine the innovation policy and put science back at the centre of decision making.”
Commissioner Hogan said that the rural economy is “undergoing a renaissance” which is fuelled by more demanding customers, and he questioned Mr Paterson’s view regarding trade deals and whether the UK would be able to match existing trade agreements.
“It would likely take the UK 10-15 years to negotiate deals we have already done with South Korea and Canada. Would they match a deal the EU has already signed up to?” he said.
“Before you knock down the house, be clear what you would rebuild in its place,” he said.