It is a time of change for UK farming and one that will need careful navigation, investment and support - Sophie McCandlish

Yorkshire Post Agricultural Correspondent, Sophie McCandlish
Yorkshire Post Agricultural Correspondent, Sophie McCandlish
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At the beginning of this week, the Treasury announced almost £3bn in funding would be made available to maintain the level of funding for direct payments at the same rate as last year once we leave the EU.

This has at least provided some stability for the farming community as trade deal negotiations continue and a little time to take stock of where we go next.

Since the result of the referendum was announced in 2016, Brexit has been a source of concern, frustration and uncertainty.

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Planning has been at best difficult and at worst impossible as the negotiations have gone backwards and forwards with no decision being made.

But as we start 2020 we find ourselves looking at a pivotal year for our industry. There will be challenges, nobody can pretend otherwise, but as NFU President Minette Batters said the election result gives the industry an opportunity to ‘reset and re-energise’ for the coming year.

Viewing what is ahead as a positive opportunity for both the industry as a whole and individual businesses will help build a more sustainable long-term future.

In his comment piece on Page 5, farm business consultant Simon Britton talks about the need for farmers to think like businessmen to not only survive but thrive outside the common market.

Most already do, farming is after all a business and we all need to make a living, but he is optimistic that with careful management, a farming industry without subsidies is an opportunity to improve.

In her comment piece on Page 8, Future Farmer Anna Cornforth talks about her experiences in New Zealand where subsidies were withdrawn in the late 80s. She says the two systems cannot be compared like for like but the restructuring of New Zealand’s farming industry was heavily influenced by the loss of that financial buffer.

It is a time of change for UK farming and one that will need careful navigation, investment and support. The funding has shown the Government committing to its party manifesto but that is just the first step. It must stand by UK farmers and negotiate a trade deal worthy of the industry it represents.