The vote to leave the EU puts farming and agricultural businesses in huge danger, threatening both cuts to the support which underpin farmers’ livelihoods and ability to manage the countryside, and also tariffs on exports. For agricultural products outside the EU, tariffs average 22.3% – putting Britain’s £18 billion of food exports in danger.
Our system must support farmers, ensure food production, and protect the environment. That’s why we will:
- Continue our long campaign to reform agricultural subsidies – making sure British farming remains competitive and doesn’t lose out in the event of Britain leaving the EU, rebalancing away from direct subsidy and refocusing support towards the public goods that come from effective land management including countryside protection, flood prevention, food production, and climate change mitigation. This would ensure that smaller farms are protected and move support away from large landowners, whilst delivering a more localised agricultural policy.
- Encourage new and younger entrants to farming by championing different forms of ownership including longer tenancies, share farming, and community ownership.
- Introduce a National Food Strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food.
- Increase the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator and extend its remit to include businesses further up the supply chain, helping to ensure that farmers receive a fair price.
- Continue to improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture by updating farm animal welfare codes and promoting the responsible stewardship of antibiotic drugs.
- Ensure that future trade deals require high safety, environmental and animal welfare standards for food imports, including clear and unambiguous country of origin labelling for meat and dairy products.
- Develop safe, effective, humane, and evidence-based ways of controlling bovine TB, including by investing to produce workable vaccines.
Despite reform, the Common Fisheries Policy has failed to deliver the economic or environmental objectives necessary and has suffered from being remote, overly-centralised, and bureaucratic. Hard Brexit and the loss of export markets threatens to further damage the industry, which has long suffered from being used as a bargaining chip by UK governments. Liberal Democrats would defend and maintain our fishing industry by not allowing fishing rights to be traded away against other policy areas, and work with the industry and other stakeholders to develop a national plan for sustainable fisheries.