The Landworker- Unite the Union
Post Brexit: farming and agriculture lie in limbo
Uncertainty for the rural economy, agricultural workers, farming and food
processing and distribution abound as the recent referendum vote kicks
up a storm of confusion about the future.
Until the dust settles there are a few certainties to base
any kind of future policies on.
The bad news is those certainties are the uncertainty itself,
a degree of discontent and division, an unstable pound and political,
trade, tariff, economic and employment concerns.
None of those are good for the rural economy,
those who work and live in rural areas nor the general population
that relies on the end products to feed themselves.
And no one knows the detail of what Brexit will look
like as there is currently no agreed exit plan.
“It’s a mess,” Unite national officer Julia Long told Landworker.
“The government had no contingency plans in the event of a
vote to leave the EU and the Leave campaign left more questions
than answers about what the future might hold on Brexit.”
There was no shortage of industry warnings from independent experts
about risks facing agriculture in the event of a leave vote.
Warwick University’s Professor Wyn Grant warned in a specially commissioned
report in February that the lack of any contingency
planning for Brexit would lead to greater uncertainty for farmers.
A Brexit without farm subsidies would put many farmers in jeopardy,
Professor Grant also cautioned those who thought a Brexit
would see an end to regulations.
“There is a perception in the industry,” he said, “that leaving the EU would reduce
the burden of regulation.
There are legal complexities which have not been considered.”
And there was no shortage of promises from the Leave campaigns
as they attempted to fill in their own blanks on how they would
head off any negative impact of Brexit.
Key Brexiteers promised that all direct and indirect agricultural payments to
farming would stay in place.
But there is no agreement on what the amount of direct and
indirect farm payments totals, nor certainty about what promises will be kept.
Brexit supporting farm minister George Eustice put a £2bn a year price tag on
His own department, the department for the environment, food and
rural affairs gave it a £3bn a year price tag.
These payments help sustain the security of food supply, reduce the cost of food
and support the environment and help the rural economy.
And while exact figures are difficult to agree, they amount to over half
the income of farms.
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