Brexit is an opportunity for farmers to build a brighter future — so seize the day and make your voice heard.
Yorkshire farmers have been urged to seize the opportunities presented by Brexit, and help build a new agricultural policy that will benefit rural communities.
They have been encouraged to ensure their voices are heard so their views can play a key role in shaping future policy.
The call came after the launch of a working group of mostly Dales farmers, launched by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. The group will develop a range of Brexit policy proposals by the end of the year.
Richard Skingle, spokesman for specialist insurers Rural Insurance, which has over two decades’ of experience of working with the agricultural sector, called on local farmers to get involved so they can help shape the post-Brexit policies which could dramatically impact on the industry of the future.
He says there are four key areas of farming which will be impacted most by Brexit: direct support, regulation, trade and labour.
“There’s no doubt that there’s uncertainty right now about the post-Brexit future,” he added. “But with uncertainty comes opportunity. Around 55 per cent of total income from farming comes from Common Agricultural Policy payments, so what would a Domestic Agricultural Policy look like?
“What do farmers need to ensure this framework focusses solely on the needs of UK farms as opposed to catering for the diverse needs of Europe?
“Farmers also need to make sure the government makes sensible decisions when it comes to regulations such as the three-crop rule and pesticide control that help rather than hindering their businesses,” he added. “Many have felt EU regulations to be too restrictive so now could be a time to loosen the reins.
“And with just 67 per cent of supply met for late-season pickers in 2016, it is important for local farmers to put forward their views on how border controls facilitate the flow of overseas labour which is the backbone for many fruit and vegetable farms.”
Seizing the opportunity to address these challenges is vital, he added.
His comments reflect calls to agricultural workers from David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority , which launched the Brexit policy working group.
Following the group’s launch, he said Brexit negotiations offer the chance for “the voice of the Dales farmer to be heard.”
He added that despite the great uncertainty Brexit holds for many farmers, it “represents a significant opportunity to improve the profitability of farming and environmental outputs.
However, he has cautioned that “a one-size fits all policy will not work for us.”
Chairman of the new working group, Ian McPherson, has told how many solutions are being considered at local and national level to work towards a “balanced agricultural and environmental policy for our area.”
Meanwhile, National Farmers Union (NFU) has also argued that Brexit offers the agricultural industry a chance to develop brand new deals which could bring major benefits in the future.
Its latest publication, Vision for the Future of Farming claims working together to develop post-Brexit agricultural policy is the best way to secure the future of the industry.
“We must use this opportunity to create the conditions for a productive, resilient and sustainable agriculture sector,” it said.
Mr Skingle added: “Last year’s Brexit vote divided opinions in the farming community with strong feelings for both remain and leave. But now is the time to unite to make sure agriculture is well represented at negotiations and that farmers get the support they need to not only survive but thrive.
“It is in everyone’s interest to make sure the post-Brexit future is bright for farming and rural communities.”
Rural Insurance is a leading specialist insurer of rural communities, and farming industry experts. For more information, visit www.ruralinsurance.co.uk