GYS: Influence on EU farm rules must remain, says Baroness

Farmers urgently need assurances over Britain's ability to influence European regulations affecting their industry before the nation's 'painful divorce' from the EU begins in earnest, Baroness Anne McIntosh said.

The Baroness of Pickering, Anne McIntosh, who has tabled a debate in the House of Lords to seek key assurances over the short-term future for British farmers.

The peer and former Conservative MP for Malton and Thirsk, is concerned about farmers being beholden to European rules if Britain does not remain “at the negotiating table” during the period of up to two years while exit negotiations are held with the EU.

Her comments came at the Great Yorkshire Show where she told The Yorkshire Post she had secured a debate in the House of Lords next Thursday on what assessment the Government has made of the impact of the Brexit decision on British farmers.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Some of the region’s MPs, who were also at the show, said they too were keen to make food and farming a political priority.

The Baroness of Pickering, Anne McIntosh, who has tabled a debate in the House of Lords to seek key assurances over the short-term future for British farmers.

Baroness McIntosh said: “We need to be clear, we hope we will still be at the negotiating table for regulatory revisions particularly if they are going to impact upon farmers.

“You have to remember this is like a very painful divorce where you don’t have one hurt party, you have 27, and what we hear is that they are putting a lot of pressure on the Government.”

She said she wanted to use the Lords debate to explore what the implications of the referendum result are for farmers in the short-term.

“We need to have a guide as to what will happen in the next two years. We are obviously going to benefit from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments and we will still be contributing in this time. We are bound by EU directives going forward and what I’m concerned about are a number of directives coming down the track such as the revisions to the water framework directive, the drinking water directive, and what impact they may have on farming.”

The Baroness of Pickering, Anne McIntosh, who has tabled a debate in the House of Lords to seek key assurances over the short-term future for British farmers.

The Baroness’ successor as MP in her former constituency, Kevin Hollinrake, agreed that the first priority was “a straight answer” to what happens up to 2020 when the current CAP scheme ends.

“Beyond that we need to make sure we have a fit-for-purpose system of direct payments so the regulations are fair and it’s a longer term framework,” he said.

These are exciting times for farming, said Julian Sturdy, Conservative MP for York Outer.

He added: “Yorkshire has a huge opportunity in food and agriculture to really ‘brand shout’, to take opportunities that will come knocking and they will.”

While “the clock is ticking” to draw up a British agricultural policy, there is still enough time before Britain departs the EU, Mr Sturdy said.

Speaking before Andrea Leadsom was appointed Environment Secretary, Rishi Sunak, Conservative MP for Richmond, said he wanted the new Secretary of State to have “a bold vision for agricultural policy, the wherewithal to make it happen and to fight for it within government”.