New Deal for Farmers post Brexit - major alliance launches new policy proposals

Pull down the pillars of the EU farm policy and create a strong future for UK farmers after Brexit, major alliance of food and farming groups tells next Government 

Sustain (1) - an alliance of 94 organisations with a combined public membership of millions - today launched a new briefing - ‘Beyond 2020: New farm policy(2).

It recommends that the next Government should retain taxpayer support for farmers after Brexit, but replace the old two pillar EU system with a new four-part deal for farming based on payments for public goods, capital grants, free advice and wider policy measures to ensure farmers can thrive.

Key proposals are that the next Government should:

  • Shift payments from large landowners and biofuel production to supporting resilient farming, nature and animals, help alleviate flooding, creating more rural jobs and growing our own healthy 5-a-day fruit and vegetables, supported by a new Land Management Scheme (3).
  • Consider making payments to farmers and land managers front loaded, with Government tapering or capping payments to use taxpayers’ support wisely and ensure diverse farm businesses can thrive.
  • Back new enterprise including: new entrants into farming, smaller and diverse farms, agro-forestry and struggling sectors like fruit and vegetable, and overhaul farmer training and advice so they can access the tools they need.
  • Adopt vital, complementary measures across government, such as extending the Grocery Code Adjudicator’s powers to ensure fair trading practices from supermarkets and their suppliers, keeping high standards, and requiring an increase in the purchase of local and sustainable food for public-sector organisations such as schools and hospitals.

Vicki Hird, Sustainable Farming Campaign Coordinator for the Sustain alliance, said:

Farming is a business but it is so much more. Our proposals recognise that farming provides wider public benefits including thriving rural communities, valued farm workers, good nutrition, a protected and nurtured environment and wildlife, and high animal welfare.

“The next Government has a once in a lifetime opportunity with Brexit to end some of the absurdities of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy, which has not supported small and family farms well and which contributed to a loss of farmland diversity and wildlife. Our alliance proposals present a practical way forward and a basis that the Government could use for common ground between the industry, and those groups championing the rural economy, conservation, public health and development.”

Sustain believes that a focus on high volume, low standard production is a real risk, posed by a de-regulatory agenda and new international trade deals, and wrong for the future well-being of our nation and the UK farming industry. Our future policies must also not harm farmers in the global south or lead to weaker standards.

Pippa Woods, farmers and Director of Family Farmers Association says: "These excellent  proposals contain most of the objectives family farmers have been working towards since 1979.  If achieved we will have a happy countryside and plenty of wholesome home produced food.

‘Beyond 2020: New farm policy’ proposes crucial wider policy measures, including; a strengthened and extended Groceries Code Adjudicator; maintenance the organic legal standards and new labelling regulations; reforms to farm tenancy rules and strong worker protection; high standards for public procurement of food; and trade policies that promote these commitments, including transparent trade deals that must demonstrate how they support and do not undermine UK farming.

- ends –

Contact details: Vicki Hird, Sustainable Farming Campaign Coordinator for the Sustain alliance, vicki@sustainweb.org; tel: 0203 5596 777 m: 07903478249

Notes

  1. Sustain is an alliance of around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national and regional level for better food and farming. We work with hundreds more at local level. Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. The proposals were developed in consultation with working party members drawn from the wider Sustain membership - including farmer and grower, conservation, environment, public health, organic, animal welfare and development organisations - and do not represent the views of any single Sustain member organisation.  Groups that contributed include CIWF, CPRE, Family Farmers Association, Friends of the Earth, the Landworkers’ Alliance, National Trust, RSPB, Soil Association, UNITE
  2. Email vicki@sustainweb.org for the briefing or it can be downloaded here 
  3. The Briefing contains an agreed set of principles to underpin new policies and then describes a proposed new scheme. This would be a universally available Land Management Support scheme with payments based on delivery in three ways:
    1. a menu of outcomes that demonstrate delivery of public goods;
    2. an organic systemic scheme;
    3. a whole-farm scheme.

Specific support is proposed for farming for carbon reduction, as well as nutritional and economic benefits including: increasing agroforestry; boosting domestic and sustainable fruit and vegetable production; and support for new entrants and farm succession. The proposal also includes the need to provide:

  1. capital and short-term infrastructure support with specific help for smaller businesses; and
  2. a new publicly funded programme of low- or no-cost farmer advice and support for a farmer-to-farmer advisory network.
  1. A summary of the main UK political party manifesto pledges on food, farming and fishing is available at: https://www.sustainweb.org/election/manifestos2017/

01/06/2017
Food and Farming Policy

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