Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Farming tomorrow

It's difficult to keep up with the flood of reports on the future of agricultural policy after Brexit. Many of them say rather similar things, which I suppose reflects an emerging consensus focusing spending on 'public goods', although there is still a lack of clarity on the policy instruments that would deliver these objectives. The latest report comes from the Policy Exchange: Farming Tomorrow

It argues that subsidies on food production should be phased out and in the words of Policy Exchange's director, Warwick Lightfoot, be directed 'towards more sustainable goals - the landscape and its appearance.' Tariffs should be lowered unilaterally, so farmers would face a double whammy.

It is argued that the UK should replace the CAP with a new British Agricultural Policy which focuses on payments for ecosystem services (or natural capital) and phases out production subsidies and income support by 2025. Any remaining subsidies should be redirected towards protection for natural and public goods, and increasing R&D to boost innovation and the sector’s long-term productivity. The difficulty is that no one has yet come up with a feasible scheme for pricing ecosystem services.

Professor Tim Lang has described the report on Twitter as a 'clear neoliberal farm Brexit call' while another tweeter commented 'Bye-bye, quality British food.

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