YP Comment: Clear Brexit policy is required

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The food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, with exports hitting a record £20bn last year. This is proof not only of just how valuable our farmers and producers are, but also affirmation of their unrivalled reputation when it comes to quality.

Agricultural businesses and food producers help drive our economy at the same time as being guardians of the nation’s countryside. However, with Britain due to leave the Common Agricultural Policy, a new system of farm subsidies will have to be put in place by Defra and there are serious concerns about what will happen to British food production as we head for the EU exit.

The British Society of Animal Science (BSAS) goes as far as saying the future of the country’s food security is at risk unless the Government changes its approach to farming policies post-Brexit.

Its president, Professor Liam Sinclair said that without giving producers the support they need in order to survive and successfully develop their businesses outside the European Union, we risk being left with fewer animals, a changed landscape and shattered rural economies. Such warnings ought to focus the minds of policymakers ahead of the looming EU talks.

The Brexit-supporting Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, has kept a decidedly low profile since taking office. Whether she remains in the post following the general election remains to be seen. Whoever it is they will need to step up to the plate because our hardworking farmers and producers deserve a vociferous champion.