The four UK farming unions have agreed a set of priorities for achieving the best Brexit outcome for UK farming.
Presidents Barclay Bell, Ulster Farmers’ Union; Minette Batters, National Farmers Union; Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland; and John Davies, NFU Cymru, are calling on the United Kingdom Government to get behind farmers and the high quality, safe and affordable food they produce.
The statement comes as the UK moves to the next phase of Brexit negotiations following the sign-off on the framework for a future relationship between the UK and European Union.
The UK farming union presidents said: “A well-managed Brexit must herald an agricultural revolution. Enabling UK farmers to continue to deliver high quality, safe, affordable and responsibly produced food for all UK consumers, whatever their income. Our farming and food sector has some of the best standards of food safety, animal welfare and traceability in the world. Brexit should celebrate these standards and new third country trade agreements must not undermine them.
“Alongside food production, UK farmers manage 70 per cent of the UK land. Our efforts to manage the environment are critical. Healthy soils, clean water, vibrant wildlife and managed landscapes are both the result and underpinning of sustainable food production.
“Brexit is going to bring fundamental change to our sector. A sector that has been driven by European farm and environmental regulation for over 40 years. While we are leaving the political union, we must retain frictionless access to European markets.
“Governments across the UK are ‘taking back control’ for agricultural policy. The farming ministers in all four regions must collaborate, as the UK farming unions are doing. We want to see policy changes that are fair to all farms irrespective of size or system, with sufficient time for farm businesses to adapt. Alongside, better regulation with support and promotion of UK farming standards that protect the single UK market from competitive distortions.
“Replacing the CAP with domestic farm policy measures alone will be insufficient to see farming thrive. We also need a comprehensive approach with all parts of Government across the UK contributing, including delivering fair trade deals, continued access to labour and improved application of new technology. In particular, farmers need to be equal partners in the supply chain. Our ambition is a post-Brexit supply chain that is fair and equitable for all.
“UK farmers have a great story to tell. We call on all farmers, at this historic moment of change, to speak up for what they deliver for the UK - great food, iconic landscapes and high standards. With the right policy Britain’s farms can be more profitable, productive and progressive.”