The Conservatives today committed to protecting funding for British farmers post-Brexit. It seems farmers are apprehensive about what comes next, despite many farmers in the south-west voting for Brexit in the referendum.
A Conservative majority government say they would match the current annual budget available to farmers in every year of the next Parliament, to support farmers as they move away from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. In England, the CAP, they say, will be replaced by new schemes to support farmers in their work to care for the environment, improve animal welfare, and provide other “public goods”. Improvements in productivity and overall sustainability will also be rewarded. A 7-year transition will help ensure farmers have time to plan and adjust. Policies for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be set by the Devolved Administrations.
Ministers are also announcing the Conservatives will use the opportunity of leaving the EU to encourage the public sector to “Buy British”, in recognition of the quality of British food and in order to reduce our carbon footprint.
Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:
“Brexit provides a huge opportunity to transform British farming. By leaving the discredited Common Agricultural Policy, we can help British farmers become more productive at the same time as improving our natural environment.
“I am delighted to announce that a Conservative majority government would guarantee to match the current annual budget available to farmers in every year of the next Parliament. This gives farmers across the UK the reassurance they need to plan for the future.
“It’s only by getting Brexit done and that we can create a bright new future for farming. The last thing farmers need is the prolonged uncertainty and chaos of two more referendums under Labour.
“Our new Environmental Land Management system to replace the CAP is a flagship environmental reform which will be crucial in our efforts to reverse the decline of nature and biodiversity and achieving our long term goal to ensure this is the first generation to hand on the natural environment in a better condition than we inherited it. This funding announcement provides a massive step forward in enabling us to deliver this reform successfully.
“But, we can only do any of this if we end the gridlock and deadlock in parliament with a Conservative majority Government.
“That’s why we had no choice but to call this election. And it’s why the choice that people now face as they cast their votes is simple: A Jeremy Corbyn Government that will promise the earth but deliver nothing but more Brexit delay and the chaos of two referendums. Or the Conservatives getting Brexit done, and moving on with other priorities like supporting British farming.”
Ms Villiers’ approach highlights fears that the conservatives will not achieve a majority government after the next election, a feat which is by no means certain.
Scott Mann, the Conservative Party candidate for North Cornwall said:
“The Conservatives are committed to our rural economy. Our farming sector has been affected by EU regulations and directives over the past four decades, and as we leave there has some apprehension with our farming community. I am very happy that the next Conservative majority government will guarantee to match the current annual budget available to farmers in every year of the next Parliament.
“The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is administered by the Rural Payments Agency, and post-Brexit I would like to see future payment schemes streamlined, locally administered, and more accessible to all. North Cornwall’s farmers produce the best food in the world; both have told me they want our standards to remain the same or higher. That’s the message I’ll be taking back to Westminster if I am re-elected as your MP.”