Should farmers have to farm in a way that is good for the environment or should productivity be their overriding target?

21 September 2016

As far as I can tell the last time the House of Commons discussed agriculture, without having to do so in the context of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) of the European Union, would have been some time circa 1970.

This is set to change. Over the next two years the House of Commons, along with the farming community, the food industry and consumers, will need to debate and decide how, on leaving the EU, we will order food production and farming in the UK. What we decide will have a profound impact on the look of our rural landscape, where our food comes from and how many UK jobs result. Food and drink, including farming, is worth a £108 billion to our economy, so we better not mess it up, the stakes are high.

To work out what our new domestic agriculture policy should look like we have some major questions to answer, for example: 

Should farmers have to farm in a way that is good for the environment or should productivity be their overriding target? For instance, under the current CAP payments farmers can receive funding for deliberately not planting crops right up to the edge of their field and instead allow wild strips to develop for the benefit of birds and animals. In a recent YouGov poll 83% of UK respondents said they wanted to see the same or a higher level of wildlife protection in future than under the CAP.

Do you think the North East needs its own voice in the EU exit negotiations?

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