Dairy responds to UK government’s agricultural policy document

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The dairy industry is looking for consultation in response to a government document on the industry after Brexit.
The dairy industry is looking for consultation in response to a government document on the industry after Brexit.

Related tags Arla foods uk Agriculture

Dairy UK, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Arla Foods UK have responded to the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) publication of its paper into agricultural policy, ‘Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit.’

In the document, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, said for more than 40 years, the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has decided how the UK farms its land, the food that is grown and reared and the state of the natural environment.

“Over that period, the environment has deteriorated, productivity has been held back and public health has been compromised,”​ Gove said in his introduction to the document.

“Now we are leaving the EU we can design a more rational, and sensitive agriculture policy which promotes environmental enhancement, supports profitable food production and contributes to a healthier society.”

Questions to be answered

Dairy UK said it has long advocated that the seismic shift Brexit will create will bring with it opportunities to take advantage of.

“Any new agricultural policy that incentivises farmers for improving animal welfare, environmental standards and that promotes efficiency is for us, a positive step towards the successful dairy industry of the future,”​ Dairy UK said in a statement.

However, it said, the Government must ensure that following this consultation, urgent questions on the future of farming are addressed.

“We broadly support the move to phase out the direct payments, so long as assurances are given that these funds be ring-fenced for the purpose of agriculture and invested to improve and maintain the competitiveness of UK dairy farms against their European neighbors​.”

Dairy UK said it needs clarity from the Government on how the policies of the devolved administrations will work alongside each other, to ensure a common framework that does not distort domestic trade.

The organization said it looks forward to contributing to the consultation and working with Defra to shape the future of farming post-Brexit.

Arla pleased with consultation

Commenting on the publication, Tomas Pietrangeli, managing director of Arla Foods UK, said the announcement provides welcome clarity for the cooperative’s farmer owners as to how the Government sees the future of agriculture in the UK.

He added Arla is pleased to see industry will be involved in the process through consultation.

“Arla has long been calling for the new agricultural policy to act as a catalyst for investment in a sustainable future for the dairy industry,”​ Pietrangeli said.

“We also support a separate transition period for agriculture after Brexit, the protection of the UK’s frictionless trade with the EU and the maintenance of its gold standard framework on animal welfare and food standards. We’re therefore pleased to see that these recommendations are reflected in the Government’s plans.”

NFU looks to ‘level playing field’

NFU president, Minette Batters, said profitable, productive and resilient farm businesses are key to delivering the public goods referred to in the policy announcement.

Batters said farm businesses need to be productive, profitable and resilient to volatility. 

“This must be at the forefront of Government policy if we are to have a farming sector that feeds us, cares for our countryside and delivers economic benefits,”​ Batters said.

"While most British farmers would much rather farm without support, what we must be absolutely sure of is a level playing field. British farms cannot compete with others countries' agricultural goods on the global market if we are disadvantaged.”

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