Farm policy options post-Brexit are put in the spotlight

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The Farming Roundtable, which represents all the main agri-stakeholder groups in the UK, has agreed a list of principles which it believes should guide policy development and implementation once the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

A statement, issued after a recent meeting of the Roundtable, calls on the four UK Governments to “establish and maintain regular, formal and cooperative arrangements to manage policy, legislation and delivery of regulation across the UK” and that a priority should be to “take every step to retain and protect a single market access for food, agricultural commodities, live animals and plant products throughout the UK.”

The Roundtable meeting was chaired by NFU President Minette Batters.

She said that a UK policy framework for farming should respect and maintain the current devolution settlement of policy and regulation to the constituent parts of the United Kingdom.

In addition, the UK’s various governments, parliaments and regulators should take every step to retain and protect a single market access for food, agricultural commodities, live animals and plant and plant products throughout the UK.

The Roundtable wants to see the development of distinct agricultural policies to replace the Common Agricultural Policy. Moreover, farming ministers across the UK should ensure that potential differences in application of agricultural policy should not adversely impact on trade within the UK.

The Roundtable blueprint also specifies that farming ministers across the UK and agricultural departments must establish and maintain regular, formal and cooperative arrangements to manage policy, legislation and delivery of regulation across the UK economic area.

A guiding principle should be that no single country determines or curtails UK policy in the rest of the UK. No part of the UK should be able to act, or avoid action, that threatens to curtail access for other parts of the UK to third country markets, or that questions the UK’s adherence to its international agreements.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to provide the same cash total in funds for farm support as is currently paid out under the CAP. In the longer term, with the development of a new domestic agricultural policy, at least the same level of public investment in agriculture should be retained,” said Minette Batters.

The UK Farming Roundtable also agreed that ministers, governments and regulators need to maintain and develop common frameworks across a broad range of policy activity including air quality emissions, biotechnology deployment, organic farming, animal health – movement of animals and control of disease, plant protection products – maximum residues, marketing, use and licensing, minimum standards on specific commodities, food labelling - consumer food labels, import and movement of plants, pest outbreaks, plant variety rights.

In addition while agreeing that agricultural support arrangements should be substantially devolved, the Roundtable is concerned that the potential for very different approaches across the UK may undermine the UK single market.