Lords report shows why Government must make Brexit Plan B for farming

16 May 2016

A House of Lords report which sets out a new vision for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) clearly demonstrates why Government must commit to maintaining direct land management payments to farmers whatever the outcome of the EU Referendum, according to the CLA.

 The House of Lords EU Committee’s report makes a series of recommendations to improve the resilience of the agricultural sector. It recognises that the direct land management payments delivered through the CAP cushion farmers against market volatility and could be targeted to help farmers build longer-term resilience. It recommends that the primary objective should be to support the provision of public goods, such as increased food security, high animal welfare standards and stewardship of the land.

CLA President Ross Murray gave oral evidence to the Committee’s inquiry into improving resilience of the agricultural sector in December 2015.

He said: “The House of Lords report sets out very clearly that direct land management payments are, and will remain, critical for the future of the agricultural industry. The CLA is at the centre of discussions about how the CAP will evolve beyond 2020 if the UK remains in the EU.There are improvements to be made and it is reassuring that influential committees such as this recognise that direct land management payments are vital to ensuring a robust future for UK food production as well as the delivery of public goods through land stewardship, which benefit everyone.”

This report comes the week following an appearance by Chancellor George Osborne before the Treasury Select Committee in which he stated that while Government was undertaking contingency planning in the event of UK exit from the EU in relation to financial stability that to his knowledge no other authorised planning was taking place.

Ross Murray commented: “It is a concern there are still no signs that ministers or the civil service are preparing a contingency plan for direct land management payments if the UK votes to leave the EU next month.

This Plan B is vital so as to give reassurance that the necessary support for farming and land management would continue outside the CAP, up to 2020 and beyond. Every day that passes after a vote to leave that ministers do not give reassurances will fuel uncertainties and compound the wider crisis we are facing across our farming sector. The Government may not wish to reveal its plans before polling day, but it is critical to know that the right plans are being formed. The lack of reassurance on this important issue is causing major uncertainty and concern for rural businesses and within rural communities.” 

Recent CLA research that includes analysis of the economic impact of the CAP can be found here: www.cla.org.uk/euresearch