NFU pleads for reassurance for EU farming schemes

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Meurig Raymond has written to EU commissioner Phil Hogan calling for reassurance that schemes currently available to UK farmers will remain open and in place until 2020.

Raymond and Hogan spoke on Friday directly after the UK voted to leave membership of the European Union. This letter follows up on immediate issues of concern for NFU members including reassurance that promises made during the referendum campaign are delivered.

“We are in a period of extreme uncertainty,” said Raymond in the letter. “But one thing remains absolutely clear; the role of the NFU in lobbying government to ensure that the policies developed in the coming weeks and months will focus  on securing a profitable, productive and competitive farming industry.

“Speaking with Commissioner Hogan, I outlined the need to secure the best possible access to markets in the rest of Europe. Although we will not be a member of the EU, it will still be our major trading partner for the foreseeable future. During the referendum period these schemes were assured until 2020, allowing for farm businesses to plan ahead. I have stressed the need for schemes, such as the Rural Development Scheme and the Basic Payment Scheme, to remain in place with the promised safeguards being made in the forthcoming period of negotiation.

“Leaving the EU gives us the opportunity to build a new British agricultural policy, which is adapted to our needs – one that is easy to understand and simple to administer. We have a golden opportunity to ensure our arrangements in the future are proportionate and decisions are based on sound science. We will be looking for guarantees from government that the support given to our farmers is equal to that given to farmers in the EU, who will still be our principal competitors.

“To move forwards with this strategy, we are holding an extraordinary NFU Council meeting in London on 1 July, where we will draft and agree core principles needed for farming in England and Wales. This will be an early opportunity to work with NFU members and start to put some flesh on the bones of what we want and need from a future agriculture policy – one which will secure and deliver the nation’s home-grown food.

“Now, more than ever, it is important we work together to create a bright future for home-grown farming.”

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