Prof. Winter gives Brexit insight to PFRP farmers

March 7, 2020

The North West Devon Prince’s Farm Resilience Group held their alumni meeting last night (6th March), featuring a talk from Professor Michael Winter, Professor of Land Economy and Society at the University of Exeter's Centre for Rural Policy Research.

The group had asked for a speaker with an insight into the many factors that are influencing the outlook for farming in forthcoming years. Originally scheduled for October, Michael’s crystal ball was rather clouded due to the political situation prior to the election but has cleared a little over recent months.

Michael’s presentation highlighted how a large number of factors, some of them contradictory, were likely to bring change to the sector unlike that seen for almost 50 years. There were a few key areas that are critical to the future of the industry and livestock farmers – in particular, trade deals negotiated with the EU and USA over the next 12 months are key to free access to markets or a world with tariffs that disadvantage UK producers.

Michael offered up some positives from the 2020 version of the Agriculture Bill over previous versions, in that the Secretary of State is now “to have regard to the need to encourage the production of food by producers in England” and that the UK government will be legally required to report on food security to Parliament every 5 years.

The group had a wide ranging discussion on the reductions to BPS and in particular on the new ELM scheme which will be introduced in full by the end of 2024, it was felt the period from 2023- 2025 would be challenging given the fall in BPS payments. Michael urged the group to take part in the open consultation on ELMS that Defra is running until 5th May 2020, as it provides farmers a chance to influence the development of the scheme.

A great end to the workshop programme as the industry faces up to a period of change for all involved.