Tenants want three-pronged farm policy post-Brexit

Tenant farmers are pushing for the CAP to be replaced with a three-pronged agricultural policy once the UK leaves the European Union.

The Tenant Farmers Association discussed the proposal with Defra secretary Andrea Leadsom on Thursday (20 October).

See also: Farmers urged to take advantage of Brexit price spike

TFA chairman Stephen Wyrill said there was a growing consensus that a post-Brexit policy needed to ensure agriculture was a resilient food-producing industry that cared for the environment.

The TFA would work positively with Mrs Leadsom, other government colleagues and civil servants to develop and implement a post-Brexit plan for food, farming and the environment.

Weighing risks

Mr Wyrill said: “We told the Secretary of State that the biggest risk was not taking full advantage of all of the flexibilities afforded to the UK once it leaves the European Union.”

It was important that public investment continued to ensure the production of public goods that the market would not deliver, while addressing “serious and ingrained” market failures.

These failures prevented the market from operating sustainability, said Mr Wyrill.

The TFA is pushing for a new, three-pillar agricultural policy.

The first pillar would provide a comprehensive reward structure for active farmers delivering high standards of environmental management based on outcomes.

The second pillar would encourage farmers to draw up and implement five-year resilience plans.

These plans would allow farmers to access grant funding for infrastructural and other capital investment needed to make those plans a success.

The third pillar is a properly funded marketing and promotion arm along with a strategy for public investment in near market, research, development and technology transfer.

Mr Wyrill said: “We told the Secretary of State that this must go hand in hand with a range of other measures.”

These included improvements to the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator, and requiring public food procurement to favour British food.

Quality assurance

The TFA also wants a requirement that all the food sold through retail and food service outlets should meet Red Tractor assurance standards.

It wants a new framework to ensure the sustainable development of upland areas and reforms to farm tenancies to create longer average lengths of tenancy term.

The TFA meeting came the day after Defra minister George Eustice called on the farming industry to “move away from the notion of subsidies”.

Although the government has promised to maintain the current level of direct payments until 2020, it has signalled a switch away from those payments afterwards.

Mr Eustice favours a support system that includes insurance policies to support farm incomes and schemes that reward agri-environment measures and high animal welfare.