Farmers urge action on Brexit opportunity

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has urged the government to take advantage of the opportunity Brexit presents to create a “regulatory environment for farming that is streamlined, grounded in science and respects realistic farm practices”. 

In the final report of its Vision for the Future of Farming series, the NFU said that “new rules can work better while maintaining the same high standards that the public expect”.

As the UK approaches an EU exit, NFU is calling for regulation that: increases the role of science and evidence; respects realistic farm practices in its design; takes account of good farming practice and membership of farm assurance schemes, and uses this earned recognition to reduce on-farm assessments; better recognises the impacts of rules on business costs and operation; includes a more balanced application of the Precautionary Principle; and is proportional, taking into account the size of businesses.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “Farmers recognise that regulation is a part of farming like any other business, but they are often left frustrated with rules that do not always make practical sense on-farm.

“Leaving the EU provides a unique opportunity to develop a regulatory environment that is better designed and effectively implemented to allow farmers to do what they do best – provide a safe and affordable supply of British food.”

Raymond added: “The NFU has long maintained that any regulation should be scientifically evidenced, it should be implemented with minimal bureaucracy, and its impact on business should be fully assessed.

“Britain’s withdrawal from the EU provides the opportunity for the UK government to embrace these positive principles, improving the competitiveness of British farm businesses while ensuring continued access for our great British produce into overseas markets.

“However, to reach this point, it is crucial the government ensures the EU Withdrawal Bill provides certainty to farmers about the rules and regulation they will be subject to in the short and medium term, so that their businesses can thrive without considerable disruption after we leave the EU.

“A system that offers farmers the best business environment to farm not only benefits food production but the countryside and rural economy as a whole.”

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