WITH Brexit looming, the NFU has set out a three-phase approach to move from the current system of farm support to a new domestic agricultural policy.

It says that with Brexit only 18 months away, the Government needs to say how the transition from the current system will take place – an early response would provide confidence to the industry.

The NFU’s proposed approach and indicative timeline centres on three phases:

  • Phase one should deliver stability and continuity. It envisages an initial two-year phase where the existing Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) measures would be largely preserved, but adjusted where opportunities for minor improvements present themselves alongside work on testing and piloting new ideas for the new system.
  • The second phase presents the opportunity for review and assessment work, while the CAP legacy schemes would continue for farmers. Crucially, at this stage it should be possible to assess the wider political environment and trading conditions farmers will face in the future following Brexit. The NFU wants the Government to undertake a detailed analysis during this phase of the Brexit settlement and its impact on farming, and assess the results of pilots and trials introduced in earlier years.
  • Phase three would see the switch to a new, bold and ambitious domestic agricultural policy. The precise timing would depend on the results of the government’s impact assessment and a clear understanding of the impact of policy changes on British farming.

Meurig Raymond, NFU president, said: “We know that forming a future domestic agricultural policy presents a huge opportunity for Government to set out a framework for support that promotes profitability, productivity and progressiveness on British farms.

“But at the forefront of many farmers’ minds is the shift from an EU policy to domestic one and what this will mean for their businesses. And this is why a well thought-out transition is vital to ensuring as much certainty and stability as possible.”

He said different political decisions and their implementation would have differing impacts on farming’s readiness to move away from the current CAP.

Mr Raymond said: “In reality, with a Brexit settlement that promotes a positive future for British farming, the first two phases could be completed in four years with a new system implemented as early as 2023.

“But a disruptive Brexit that damages the prospects of British farming would mean maintaining the stability of the current system for a much longer period.

“What is clear is farming’s appetite to move to a new way of doing things that promotes greater productivity on farm, protects and enhances the environment, and guards against volatility in the sector.”

He warned that past CAP reform decisions had often been rushed creating significant delivery problems and delays to payments.

“I am very pleased that our vision chimes with the Prime Minister’s recent commitment to a transitional period after the UK leaves the EU, which we hope has prepared the ground for both sides to make progress in Brexit negotiations.”