As hundreds of farmers and rural businesses gather at Westminster today, there is one item likely to dominate the agenda; discussing how the post-Brexit landscape will affect the countryside.
With the uncertainty that still surrounds Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union due to Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement looking unlikely to pass a Parliamentary vote on December 11, there may well be a lack of definitive answers that can be provided by Environment Secretary Michael Gove on the way forward as the UK prepares for an eventual future outside the Common Agricultural Policy.
But after Mr Gove expressed his hopes earlier this year that a gradual transition away from the direct payment system of CAP will free up funds for investment, the Country Land and Business Association has today put forward a series of policies that will help rural businesses deal with the challenges – and make the most of the opportunities – thrown up by Brexit.
Its ‘Enterprising Countryside Charter’ highlights the need for new Rural Enterprise Frameworks to support business growth, improved internet coverage in rural areas and implementing greater consistency in planning laws.
Such measures speak to many of other issues which would be facing the industry in any case regardless of Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
But with only one in five rural businesses currently having started Brexit contingency plans, implementing the recommendations of the charter would undoubtedly give those working in farming and agriculture a firmer foundation for planning for their future and that of their employees.
The Government should heed the CLA’s suggestions to ensure the post-Brexit lie of the land allows our agricultural industries to flourish.