Friday, 22 Jan 2021

Redwood demands urgent post-Brexit support for British farming: ‘We need more homegrown!’

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Sir John Redwood insisted that the UK needs more domestic growers to put homegrown food on British plates post-Brexit. Victoria Prentis MP, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, agreed with the former Cabinet minister. She noted that more foods can be grown in Britain.

Speaking in Parliament, Ms Prentis said: “It’s our responsibility to protect across plant and animal health and the wider ecosystem.

“It’s important that our biosecurity protects are aligned to address the specific and often unique risks that relate to Great Britain.”

Sir John interjected: “Will she ensure we have high standards to help domestic growers because we need to have more homegrown food on British plates and more agriculture in Britain?”

Ms Prentis continued: “I thank the honourable gentleman for his intervention.

“I know he is every bit ambitious for the future of British horticulture than I am.

“I really do think there is more that we can be growing here and I very much hope in the next few years that comes to pass.”

Her comments come as hundreds of family farms in England will be put at risk by a “full-throttle attack” contained in the Government’s post-Brexit reforms to farming support, MPs have warned.

Environment Secretary George Eustice insisted moves to reduce subsidies for farmers from next year and replace them with payments to protect the environment represent an “an evolution, not an overnight revolution” by the Government.

But Labour were joined by MPs from other parties in expressing concerns about the impact of the changes, including that it could “eradicate the good English farmer”.

The changes to agricultural policy after Brexit, which will be brought in over seven years up to 2028, are being seen as the most significant change to farming and land management for England in more than 50 years.

A new roadmap from Government spells out how “direct payments”, paid out under the basic payment scheme for the amount of land farmed, will start to be reduced from 2021 on the way to being phased out by 2028.

Shadow Environment Secretary Luke Pollard told the Commons: “Labour supports public money for public good, of course we do, but that’s not what this is about.

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“Strip away the green coating and these proposals are a full-throttle attack on English family farms – English because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland farmers are going in a different direction by maintaining support for small farms for longer.

“Under these proposals, many small farms will lose up to half their current support payments within just three years, leaving many financially unviable.”

The Government has committed to maintaining the £2.4billion per year for farming over this parliament, but plans to halve the £1.8billion paid in direct payments by 2024, with the biggest reductions in the highest payment bands.

The £900million saved will go towards introducing an “environmental land management” (ELM) scheme which will reward farmers for sustainable farming practices, creating new habitats and even rewilding land.

There will also be funding for a farming investment fund, which will offer grants for equipment and technology such as robots and new infrastructure such as water storage on farms, and which will open from next year.

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