The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has published its report, The future for food, farming and the environment, responding to the Government’s Consultation, ‘Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit.’
The inquiry focused on the impact of leaving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and whether the Government’s proposals will deliver on its ambitions to both increase farm competitiveness and enhance the environment.
The Committee is calling on the Government to ring-fence funding for farming post-Brexit, provide much greater details on its new support mechanisms for farmers, and ensure environmental and welfare standards are maintained on products entering Britain.
Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “A new funding model for agriculture is essential for the future prosperity of UK farming. As we leave the EU we must ensure that we maintain our standards, and that those importing into the UK meet our high standards of production.
“The Government should commit to funding the future agricultural policy using ring-fenced funds, consider new support mechanisms such as tax breaks and capital grant support, ensure that trade agreements demand that imported products meet our standards, and avoid a regulatory race to the bottom.
“Defra’s consultation is ambitious and we welcome much of its intent. There is a notable lack of detail in the Government’s paper, however, and we seek more clarity on funding, delivery, and timing. The Government risks not achieving its ambition and risks damaging the sector. The Government should respond to the farming sector’s concerns and provide clarity as soon as possible.”
Responding to today’s report from the Efra Select Committee ‘The Future of Food, Farming and the Environment’, NFU President Minette Batters said: “The findings from the Efra Select Committee will be welcome news for farmers and growers, who have long been calling on the Government to provide clarity on future funding and how British farming’s high standards will be protected post-Brexit.
“British farming operates to some of the highest standards in the world. The report’s recommendation that the Government does not enter into trade agreements that allow food imports that do not meet our environmental, welfare and food safety standards is particularly welcome. It is vital that British farming’s produce and contribution to the nation is not undermined.
“The NFU is pleased to see the Committee request that government produce a farm productivity plan by May 2019 and believe this could be a vital tool in ensuring that farm businesses are able to perform at their best and continue producing high-quality, safe, traceable food for the nation.
“A ring-fenced agricultural fund, along with new support mechanisms would also provide a positive step towards this. Sectoral assessments of the withdrawal of direct payments, as recommended by the report, would help the targeting of this additional support.
“As the Committee points out, the forthcoming Agriculture Bill will provide a crucial vehicle for implementing these and many other aspects of future agricultural policy. We agree that it is vital that the Committee carries out pre-legislative scrutiny before the formal introduction of the Bill.
“Farming is a long-term business and farm businesses need urgent clarity on what their future trading situation, labour supply and funding will look like. The NFU continues to press Government on confirming how long a transition period will apply for agriculture to ensure farmers are able to plan properly.”