Post-Brexit agriculture on the menu at farmers’ breakfast

06 March 2017

A positive Brexit deal for agriculture could be an opportunity to focus financial support on productivity, resilience and investment, an audience of Essex farmers heard on Thursday 2nd March.

Speaking at a breakfast seminar hosted by Savills, the NFU’s Nick von Westenholz, director for EU Exit and International Trade, said that at a time of more questions than answers, the task was to prepare the industry to meet the challenges ahead.

Outlining the NFU’s key priorities of trade, labour, regulation and future domestic agricultural policy, he presented alternative scenarios for farm support.  “This is obviously critical,” he said.  “It’s a political hot potato and we have come up with a package which we think will encourage farming to be competitive, profitable and progressive.”

He explained that should Brexit impact negatively on trade, labour and regulation, the NFU would argue for a policy in which support is focused strongly on protecting farmers against volatility.  “However, if the result is positive, then we can be much bolder and ambitious, with the lion’s share aimed at promoting measures such as productivity, efficiency, competitiveness and investment in R&D,” he said. He emphasised that the NFU would argue strongly for public investment in agriculture to be, at the very least, maintained at current levels.

Turning to future regulations, he added: “There is the opportunity to devise a regulatory environment that is fit for purpose; that protects the environment, animal and human health but also supports innovative and productive farming and reduces red tape for farmers”.

Responding to the question of how much farmers could expect to receive in support once Britain leaves the EU, Savills head of rural business in the East, Mike Horton, commented:  “My advice to farmers is to take at least 50% of what you currently receive, put it to one side and then take a critical look at your remaining business.  Ask yourself - can I diversify my income base and how should my business be structured going forward?”.

• Savills annual Essex Farmers’ Breakfast was held at Braxted Park in Essex on March 2.

 
 

Key Contacts

Michael Horton

Michael Horton

Director
Rural

Savills Ipswich

+44 (0) 1473 234 813