Hours left to respond to Defra consultation

Farmers have just a few hours left to respond to the biggest government consultation on the industry since the end of the Second World War.

Defra’s Health and Harmony future farm policy consultation will close for submissions at 11.45pm on Tuesday (8 May).

The Command Paper is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure farmers’ voices are heard in how the government will shape agricultural policy after Brexit.

See also: Defra policy consultation – key points and how to respond

The consultation is the precursor to the an Agriculture Bill, which will be published later this autumn, and it will shape the future of farming outside of the CAP and EU for many years to come.

Defra secretary Michael Gove’s “green Brexit” plan for British agriculture post Brexit envisages farmers of all sizes having to work harder for the environment to receive support.

Mr Gove has implied that future farm support post-2022 will depend on farmers delivering wider environmental benefits, or “public money, for public goods”.

The NFU has stressed to the government that farm businesses must remain sustainable, profitable and progressive. However, the union is concerned there is no focus in Defra’s 68-page consultation on domestic food production.

Need for transition

The NFU published its own response to the consultation on Tuesday (8 May), emphasising the need for a transition period for the introduction of the new farm policy.

NFU president Minette Batters said the government must respect the vital work of farmers as food producers, but also in delivering goods for wider society, and this must be rewarded fairly.

“I want British farmers and growers to remain the number one supplier of choice to the UK market,” added Ms Batters.

“A future farm policy could uplift British farming’s ability to produce food for the nation, giving us greater security in the supply of safe, traceable and quality British food that the public trust.

“The policy could further enhance our reputation for high-welfare British food, which delivers for the environment, across the world.”

Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, is encouraging all sheep farmers to respond. “Farmers can be assured that many individuals and organisations with other views will be responding, and we should aim to outweigh them in voice, knowledge, intellect and reason.”

How farmers can respond

Respond directly via the government’s website or email: agricultureconsultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Alternatively, respond via a 10-minute NFU survey at www.bit.ly/SpeakUpForFarming

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