Friday, February 24, 2017

NFU goes for three pronged approach

The National Farmers Union has gone for a 'three pronged' approach to British agricultural policy after Brexit. If it seems a little short on detail, this is no surprise as different sectors of the industry want different things and even farmers within the same sector.

The first area would be designed to enhance productivity and competitiveness. This could include capital grants to farmers, knowledge transfer, training and advice an tax breaks to encourage investment.

The second area would be directed at environmental measures. As well as traditional agri-environmental schemes this could encompass payments for ecosystem services such as water companies paying farmers to look after watercourses.

The third area would be concerned with volatility. This would be the top priority if the settlement was an unfavourable one for the sector, e.g., on trade. This could include crop insurance (I remain to be convinced), future contracts (surely only for bigger farmers), and income guarantees, as well as direct payments to farmers. Income guarantees might look like deficiency payments as happened pre-1973, but they may not be WTO compatible.

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