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5 December 2017 09:43:02 |Government,News

British farmers could 'thrive' outside EU after decades of being 'boxed in'

Mr Bridgeman urged the government for a "clear strategy" for a free trade deal with the EU

Mr Bridgeman urged the government for a "clear strategy" for a free trade deal with the EU

British farmers could "thrive" outside the EU following decades of being "boxed in" by the EU's agricultural policies.
The deputy president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Mark Bridgeman said Brexit is a "hugely significant" period for British agriculture. He said it will prosper outside the EU.
Speaking to BBC News, Mr Bridgeman said: “We have operated under the Common Agricultural Policy for 40 years. We have been told by Brussels how we should do things.
“It has been very top-down and, while it has given the stability to farmers, we are also boxed in by certain constraints. So we have to comply with certain things that have to meet all 28 countries.
“So it's a great opportunity to do things better, to drive forward productivity in the sector and also improve the environment.”
Mr Bridgeman urged the government for a "clear strategy" for a free trade deal with the EU, as 70 percent of exports go to Europe. He said it is "crucial" one is formed.

He continued: “We need a clear steer and strategy from the Government. It’s what we are calling out for. Also, most importantly, we need that free-trade deal with Europe.”
'Practical and pragmatic'
At the CLA Business Conference last week (28 November), Defra Secretary Michael Gove began setting out how the government will make "practical and pragmatic" changes to existing farm support systems, streamlining the process to "free up" farmers' time.
Mr Gove has previously called the the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) "environmentally damaging and socially unjust". He has acknowledged the "daily challenge" farmers face with "burdensome" policy.
The Defra Secretary called the current system of farm support "inefficient, ineffective and inequitable". He outlined the need to change the way the UK invests in the countryside so farmers can more readily access support to protect wildlife, enhance the environment and improve land use.
In response to this, Mr Bridgeman said Mr Gove’s comments are “encouraging” and "positive about the future".
Mr Bridgeman continued: “He also talked about how we can do things better once we come out of the Common Agricultural Policy, which is going to happen in March 2019, or some time after that.

“He talked about how he can boost productivity, how the Government can really get behind the industry and drive productivity growth in this country.”
If the UK succeeded in its objective of securing a free-trade deal with the EU, the AHDB said the average farm income could rise slightly to £41,000.


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