The government must not waste the opportunity afforded by Brexit to put in better policies for food, farming and the countryside, a farm group has said.
As the UK moves away from the European Union, the Tenant Farmers' Association (TFA) said that it is 'vital' that it does so in a way which builds a 'positive future' for farming.
Since the EU referendum, the TFA has been working with the government to call for sustainable policies which creates 'resilient and profitable' businesses, working to high standards of food quality, environmental management and animal welfare.
TFA National Chairman, James Gray told the group's AGM on Thursday (14 March): “Not all the UK's woes can be placed at the door of the Common Agricultural Policy.
“It is often the case that it is the way domestic governments have decided to implement aspects of the CAP that have caused the most problems rather than the parent policy itself.
“We need to use the current opportunity to develop bespoke policies which better fit our national circumstances and priorities,” said Mr Gray
However, he warned that many farm businesses are currently working hard, for whom the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) represents the difference between financial security and bankruptcy.
“Simply removing direct payments without significantly adjusting other policy areas will be a recipe for disaster,” he said.
“It is essential that the government takes a systems approach to policy and does not consider individual aspects in separate silos.
“The Basic Payment Scheme may be a blunt instrument, but it is not without its merits in providing much-needed support for businesses who are unable to attract a sufficient return from the marketplace which is stacked against them,” added Mr Gray.
The TFA supports the government’s intention to bring forward a new policy framework which bolsters farm productivity whilst providing support for farmers to deliver public goods but stresses that this must be focused on active farmers.
But any new financial assistance must only be made available to individuals who are operating units which are predominantly agricultural in nature, the group said.