South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss due to have talks with NFU president over farmers’ concerns post Brexit

Liz Truss, photo by Paul Marsh ANL-150805-090908001
Liz Truss, photo by Paul Marsh ANL-150805-090908001

Today South West Norfolk MP and Defra Secretary of State Liz Truss was due to have talks with NFU President Meurig Raymond at the Great Yorkshire Show.

It’s their second meeting since the EU Referendum, and Mr Raymond is keen to secure her continued support for British farming amid a changing government.

He said: “Food and farming is of strategic importance to the country. I have already stressed to the Secretary of State that the NFU is ready and willing to work with government to ensure we have a profitable, productive and competitive farming industry – and that work must start now.

“We must take this opportunity to build a new domestic agricultural policy that is shaped to meet our needs – a policy that allows farmers and growers to prosper while delivering the nation’s home-grown food.

“We will be seeking guarantees that the support given to our farmers remains equal to that given to farmers in the EU.

“It will be essential that we are not disadvantaged during the future trade negotiations and government must not allow an open door policy to imports produced to lower standards.

Farmers are also keen to know what is going to happen to the Country Stewardship scheme after the Brexit vote. Those already taking part want assurances that they will honoured in full.

The call comes after Natural England said that funding decisions for Countryside Stewardship, a European scheme financed through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), are being reviewed following the referendum vote to leave the EU.

A decision is expected shortly. Until then no new Countryside Stewardship grants will be approved.

NFU vice president Guy Smith said: “We understand why the referendum decision might give cause for government to reflect on its plans for Countryside Stewardship as these agreements will still be operating beyond 2020 when we will almost certainly have left the EU.

“But time is of the essence as farmers need to know now what is happening with CS roll out. These new agri-environment schemes have already had a shaky start with low farmer confidence in them. The current confusion is not helping this situation.

“The next deadline for multi-annual CS applicants is fast approaching at the end of September. It costs money and takes time to develop a good application. Farmers are not going to incur these costs without the certainty of future funding.”