Farm leaders outline top priorities for 2020

With the new year almost upon us, farm leaders have been setting out their key priorities for agriculture.

Last year, market, Brexit and regulatory uncertainty left many farmers in limbo and dented their confidence to invest in their businesses.

For 2020, farm leaders are predicting another year of political turmoil as the UK government seeks to broker a trade deal with the EU by the end of the year.

See also: Poll: Have you had a good farming decade?

The NFU has urged MPs to recognise the importance of Britain’s high farming standards and ensure they are not sacrificed by the UK’s future trade policy.

NFU president Minette Batters said reaching a trade deal with the EU – one that supports a profitable and sustainable UK farming sector – is the NFU’s top priority.

The UK has some of the highest standards of animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety in the world, and it is imperative these values are upheld in any international trade negotiations with countries such as the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, added Ms Batters.

“We cannot risk betraying these values by allowing food imports such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef – food that has been produced in ways that are illegal here – onto our supermarket shelves,” she insisted.

The NFU says it will continue to work with the government to implement effective incentives in the Agriculture Bill. It is already working to help British agriculture become net zero by 2040.

Agriculture Bill returns

The Agriculture Bill will come back in broadly the same format as presented to parliament last year, with one or two changes or additions farmers “need to watch for”, CLA president Mark Bridgeman revealed following a meeting with Defra secretary Theresa Villiers.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) said Brexit must be done over a realistic timescale that includes a trade deal which delivers full and unfettered access to EU markets for Welsh farmers.

The Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) said alongside achieving a good trade deal with the EU, farmers must ramp up efforts to secure new markets for their produce.

“To this end, AHDB should concentrate its efforts in promoting market development,” said TFA national chairman James Gray.

Funding pledge

The Conservative government has committed to maintaining current funding levels of £3.2bn each year under the CAP for the next five years.

NFU Scotland said it was vital that the Agriculture Bill allows continuity of current CAP schemes in the short term to provide certainty and stability to farmers and crofters.