AN early indication of Boris Johnson’s understanding of farming will be provided by his response – assuming there is one – to the joint letter sent to him by the Country Land and Business Association and the Tenant Farmers Association.
Respectful of the new Prime Minister’s desire and determination to deliver Brexit, and prepared to acknowledge that “leaving the European Union will bring both opportunities and challenges for the farming industry”, they are, nevertheless, fearful of the consequences for the agriculture industry if the UK crashes out of the European Union without any safeguards in place.
However they do believe that the “worst impacts” of a no-deal Brexit can be avoided if measures are implemented to protect exports, enable farmers to continue hiring migrant workers and ensure that imports meet this country’s high standards for “food and environmental security”.
And while their preference – like that of so many business and industrial leaders – is for a smooth and orderly Brexit, their central demands are critical if farming is to be better placed to withstand the latest political, economic and electoral upheavals which the whole country is now preparing to face.
Yet, while Mr Johnson did, in fairness, undertake a farm visit during his first week as Prime Minister and express his solidarity for farmers, it remains to be seen whether he has a detailed plan for agriculture three years after he was at the forefront of the successful Leave campaign – or whether his prospectus extends to pre-election rhetoric which lacks substance. Time will tell.