Farmers are likely to give a cautious welcome to the Government promise of £3bn to support them when Britain leaves the EU and its Common Agricultural Policy next year.
On the one hand, the money represents a recognition that agriculture will need continuing aid, which is a positive step.
But on the other, the funding will be spread over two years and there is still an absence of long-term planning for farming after Brexit.
As the NFU makes clear, farmers need to be able to plan ahead and any Government strategy for the future has to address issues beyond subsidies, particularly a fairer share of returns from the food supply chain.
Farmers are still at the mercy of the supermarkets over prices for their produce, and the new start that Brexit represents is an opportunity for a comprehensive review of how agriculture is to thrive in the years and decades ahead.
It has been a feature of the deadlock over Brexit that the Government has given too little thought to agriculture, taking it for granted that farmers will continue to put food on Britain’s tables.
Such a mindset is unacceptable. Serious questions, and potential risks, lie ahead for agriculture, not least the threat of imported food produced to questionable welfare standards undercutting our own farmers.
The funding announced today is a step in the right direction, but farmers have yet to be fully reassured that the Government is doing enough to safeguard agriculture, which is vitally important to the country.
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