Farmers will have the chance at the Dorset County Show to voice their opinions on what they think is needed from a future domestic agricultural policy post-Brexit.
The meeting, which will be led by National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice-president Guy Smith, is part of the union’s largest consultation in a generation. Mr Smith has urged as many younger farmers to take part, saying it was vital they should be involved in shaping farming policy in a post-Brexit era.
Trevor Cligg, NFU county chair, urged producers to attend the event to make their voice heard as there was still considerably uncertainty over the next steps the UK Government would take and the long-term effect on agriculture.
Mr Cligg, who runs 600 cattle on a 1,100 acre organic farm at South Perrrott, near Beamsinster, said farmers had witnessed “some ups and downs” in the weeks since the referendum result. The fall in the value of sterling has helped producers but this has been partially offset by higher input prices.
“There have been some swings and roundabouts. Farmers in the county are concerned about the possibility of imported products from third countries coming into the UK which have been produced at a much lower welfare standard.
“I am also concerned about the nature of the future trade barrier controls with Europe.”
Mr Cligg said he was also concerned about the future of countryside stewardship payments, which help farmers look after the environment: “I have come to the end of my agreement and Defra has told me to go ahead and reapply but they can’t guarantee a new scheme will go ahead.”
James Cossins, NFU Dorset deputy county chair, said that while cereal and oilseed prices had risen and the fall in sterling had helped boost export margins, there was still concern about the future of direct payments to farmers.
Mr Cossins, who runs a 2,200 acre dairy, beef and arable farm at Tarrant Rawston, near Blandford, added the horticultural sector was concerned about the supply of labour from the European Union, which is crucial to the viability of many firms.
Rebecca Cox, past chair of Dorset YFC and Dorset County Show Competitions Secretary, said: “The Brexit decision will lead to the biggest change in agricultural policy in this country for several decades.
“It is vital that young farmers take the opportunity to get involved in the debate as it will be our generation that will be most affected by the referendum decision,” she added.
23rd Aug 2016 14:38:00