‘Brexit means a better deal for farmers’ – Farming Minister
Farming Minister George Eustice addressed members of the regional agricultural community on a visit hosted by CCM Auctions at Skipton Auction Mart. (Thursday, March 16)
Speaking alongside Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith, he told farmers that Defra was busy preparing for what Brexit, which takes farming out of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), might look like.
Mr Eustice described it as an opportunity to create a subsidy system far better-suited to British farmers and promised a whole programme of country-wide engagement with agriculture throughout summer to get as many ideas as possible from farmers and farming representatives.
He said the British replacement for CAP should address why farmers need financial assistance and should aim to boost farmers’ incomes from their produce, stressing that securing a better deal from supermarkets would be an integral part of a new-look subsidy system for British food producers, enabling farmers to get a fairer slice of the retail price of their food. He also revealed that New Zealand producers had floated the idea of working with British farmers to grow the lamb market.
Mr Eustice detailed a need for local schemes that encouraged farmers to undertake work which benefits the environment and financially rewards those who have higher animal welfare standards. “We have some of the best animal welfare standards in the world and we should reward farmers who go above and beyond in this respect,” he said.
The Farming Minister also said the new system should help farmers invest in new machinery.
“I completely value agriculture. We need to guide agricultural policy and want to engage with farmers right across the country,” said the pro-Brexit Farming Minister, who is MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle in Cornwall and comes from a farming background, rearing his own rare breed British Lop pigs.
He urged farmers to take up any issues with their local MP Julian Smith, who he described as “a champion for farming in this area.” Mr Smith himself added: “The agricultural industry in this area is amazing and I want to represent it the best I can.”