With less than six weeks before the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021, the UK Farming Roundtable has stressed the importance of getting new agricultural policy right for the devolved nations.

The NFU chairs the UK Farming Roundtable, which represents farmers, growers, landowners and associated bodies from across the UK. The lobby is asking government for: clear roadmaps that set out agricultural transition plans so farmers have the opportunity to consider and respond to policy options and adapt their business plans; assurance that public investment in climate-friendly sustainable farming systems is maintained during and beyond the policy transition; and confidence that retaining high UK farm production standards will be a material consideration as new trade agreements are negotiated and agreed.

“Many farmers and landowners have no clear detailed picture of what, or how, these new policy frameworks will replace those run under the CAP,” it says. “Our organisations are unclear how measures in each part of the UK will avoid dislocation and disruption of the UK single market, or how the impact of new trade agreements will be weighed in the speed and direction of domestic agricultural transition. Detailed discussion with farming groups on these critical issues must be a priority.

“We all see the transition from the CAP as a significant opportunity to reset our relationship with society, providing new and meaningful employment, recognising our vital role in managing and enriching 75% of the UK’s land area and growing more than 60% of the nation’s food. Our dual role as food producers and environmental stewards should be a defining feature of all agricultural policies across the UK.

“The agriculture and horticulture sectors with access to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) have proven relatively resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic, after initial supply chain dislocation. Against this backdrop, agriculture’s share of public expenditure sustains world-leading standards of production. Maintaining public investment sustains the rural economy and improves the health and wellbeing of society.

“The UK government is negotiating new trade agreements with the European Union, and countries around the world. We have always argued that that agreement with the EU must be the priority. Simply, the EU will remain the largest market for UK farm products for the foreseeable future. Therefore, that agreement must provide as free and frictionless context as possible. Protecting our standards and any threat to them must be a material consideration for new trade agreements put before Parliament for approval.”