Kendall foresees speedier move to reduce farm support

Bedfordshire poultry and arable farmer Peter Kendall, who will be speaking at the Northern Farming Conference in Hexham on November 9.  Pic: Andrew Higgins.
Bedfordshire poultry and arable farmer Peter Kendall, who will be speaking at the Northern Farming Conference in Hexham on November 9. Pic: Andrew Higgins.
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Brexit means there is “every chance” farm subsidies will quickly be reduced by the Government, said former National Farmers’ Union president Peter Kendall.

Mr Kendall believes British agriculture now needs to maximise its opportunities if it is to flourish without European Union support.

The Bedfordshire farmer and current chairman of the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) has been announced as a keynote speaker at next month’s Northern Farming Conference.

Taking place for the seventh year, the industry event will see a panel of speakers address the risks and opportunities for agriculture posed by Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

The conference takes place at Hexham Auction Mart in Northumberland on Wednesday, November 9 and is expected to attract farmers and rural professionals from around the country.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Kendall said: “We are entering one of the most defining moments for the future of British agriculture - as the terms of Brexit are both proposed by government and finally agreed. We’ve always realised that support would be reduced over time, but there is now every chance that this will happen more quickly than it once might have. We also face more competition in domestic and overseas markets.

“The challenge for British agriculture will be to minimise the risks and to maximise the opportunities this presents us.”

While Mr Kendall fears farm support will be cut in the future, there was a welcome reassurance on Tuesday, when Chancellor Philip Hammond ended the uncertainty over the future of Countryside Stewardship payments.

Mr Hammond announced that the Treasury will continue to fund new agri-environment agreements that are started before the point at which the UK departs the EU.

The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers welcomed the decision.

The association’s secretary Jeremy Moody said: “This is extremely welcome news to farmers. It’s been a difficult summer for anyone trying to plan for Rural Development investment, faced with the choice of rushing in the hope of securing an agreement for 2017 by the autumn statement (on November 23) or simply putting all projects on hold.”

At the Northern Farming Conference, guests will also hear from Ross Murray, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Cumbria dairy farmer Robert Craig, precision farming specialist David Blacker, Anthony Carroll of Heritage Potatoes and Wagyu beef producer James Thornton.

For more details about the conference, visit www.northernfarmingconference.org.uk or call CLA North on 01748 907070.