Six priorities for Yorkshire Day: Farming

Farmers urgently need clarity from the new government.

A farmer drives his tractor along a field near Bramham

Firstly, what it will do to manage the support that British farming receives under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) when Britain leaves the EU
as current policy schemes run until 2020?

Farmers need to know they will be operating on a fair playing field with their EU neighbours in terms of subsidy support.

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Secondly, what are its priorities for a new British agricultural policy when British farmers can no longer rely on the CAP?

Government needs to give farmers early signals that the future of food and farming is a priority and that despite significant budget cuts the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has the power and will be given the resources required to draw up one of the biggest national policies post-Brexit.

Longer term, British agriculture needs assurances over how Ministers plan to secure migrant labour which is relied on for the horticulture sector and what subsidies the sector can expect to receive and how weighted these will be on meeting environmental criteria.

Answers are also needed on how the country will be protected from an influx of cheap imported food that is not produced to the same standards of production or welfare as British food.

A pressing uncertainty for farmers is whether they should apply for Countryside Stewardship subsidies from Natural England – a product of the CAP.

Farmers want to know if they enter new agreements if the funding will be there for the full five years of the scheme, not just until the point Britain leaves Europe. The deadline for the scheme is September 30, but there is no clarity on whether funding is available.

Farmers also want the Government to finally published its separate 25-year plans for British food and farming and for the environment, both of which have been repeatedly delayed, largely because of Brexit.