Discussing the black grass problem with Lincolnshire farmers
“Friends of the Earth” are at it again. This time they’re warning farmers of the dreadful loss of income after Brexit, when they get no more CAP funding. “Lincolnshire farmers could be at risk of losing more than £128 million after Brexit”.
They helpfully break down the figures with spurious exactitude, by constituency, with Louth & Horncastle facing the biggest hit at £33 million.
This is typical scaremongering from “Friends of the Earth”. The government has formally committed to maintain agricultural funding for at least two years after Brexit, and there is a broad political consensus that agriculture is vitally important for food security, for our balance of payments, and for the maintenance of the British countryside and landscape which we all love.
There is a widespread belief that EU agricultural support is very generous. In fact broad comparisons with other countries around the world show that the EU is about in the middle of the pack of advanced economies in terms of percentage of GDP devoted to agriculture.
While in an ideal world we might prefer a free-market model, the fact is that something like half of farm incomes come from farm support. We cannot expect our farmers to compete successfully in world markets unless they have support broadly comparable to that in other advanced economies.
We should recall that Britain had a perfectly good farm support system before we joined the EU, and we will have a perfectly good farm support system after we leave. We will also hopefully have a much simpler regulatory system designed for the UK, rather than the EU’s massively bureaucratic approach. We want farmers to be out raising crops and cattle – not sitting indoors filling in compliance forms.
It is simplistic scaremongering for “Friends of the Earth” to look at current levels of subsidy and claim they are at risk. They’re not so much Friends of the Earth – more Enemies of the Farmer.