National News

National News

PM BJ asks Queen to shut (prorogue) parliament (Aug 19). National Sheep Association hits out at decision (along with many more). Government says it is normal, but these extra days count, leaving little time to discuss No Deal/other options.

It means the Trade Bill, Agriculture Bill (below) and Fisheries Bills all fall.

Some of the issues in the last few months..

Prorogue

The prime minister - without a sitting Parliament - cannot pass laws to cushion the impact of 'no deal'. On the day of proroguing, there are currently 17 government bills in Parliament including several key Brexit bills – such as the Immigration, Fisheries and Agriculture Bills – which the government needs to pass shortly after a no-deal Brexit. could all be carried over into the next session.

However, given many MPs strongly oppose the prorogation, it is now clear the government will not be able to secure enough support to carry over these bills. The Trade Bill (re the implementation of international trade agreements & make provision establishing the Trade Remedies Authority) cannot be carried over.

Rationing

Ex CEO of Sainsbury's says there is about 10 days of fresh food. With no deal, there will be significant gaps of food on our shelves within a week, because 30-40% of our produce at that time comes from EU. Bookmakers Paddy Power are offering odds on what will be rationed first after Brexit. The betting firm are offering 12/1 that food rationing will be officially introduced by the end of 2019. Milk is at 11/1, Avocados are in third place at 13/1 and 11/4 on KFC having to shut down UK branches due to a shortage of chicken (Aug '19). Christopher Haskins, a Labour politician and former chairman of food manufacturer Northern Foods, warned that Britain could enter a "wartime situation of limited food rationing".
Dept of Education 'officially sensitive' document says "Schools may have to close, exams could be disrupted and fresh food for pupils’ meals could run short because of panic buying with prices soaring by up to 20% in event of 'No deal'. "On the dangers of food shortages to schools, it suggests that informing the public of the risks could make matters even worse."

Tsunami

Mr Brexit says farmers should get ready for Tsunami. "Farmers must be ready for a generational existential threat to not only their businesses but their communities,”
“Of all the business sectors destined to be adversely affected by Brexit, British agriculture tops the league. In spite of this, the Knight Frank Rural Sentiment Survey 2019, of 200 farm businesses revealed that more than a quarter of farmers are backing the hard Brexit which will directly imperil their futures.”
The Institute for Government on the state of no-deal Brexit preparedness warns, like Food & Drink Federation CEO Ian Wright, that no-deal Brexit will cause ‘mortal damage’ to food and farming, especially if you are a British lambMore on 'No deal' implications for food & farmsWhile officials are not anticipating an overall shortage of food, they believe there will be disruption to the food supply chain. This “will lead” to increases in prices of certain fresh produce, “which could impact on vulnerable groups”. There is also a risk that “panic buying will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption”. The document continues: “The UK growing season will have come to an end and the Agri-food supply chain will be under increased pressure at this time of year due to preparations for Christmas, which is the busiest time of year for food retailers.”"The food sector is absolutely clear that a no-deal exit is a disastrous outcome for us," said the Food and Drink Federation's Chief Operating Officer Tim Rycroft. " "There will be selective shortages and they will to some extent be random because it depends on which trucks get through and which don't. We think there will be some serious disruption and it will go on for weeks or months after our exit. (Aug '19) The trade body has urged the government to waive some competition rules to allow retailers and suppliers to be able to work together to provide the most effective coverage for the country in such a situation. The FDF said: "We asked for these reassurances at the end of last year, but we're still waiting."

Intervention


Farming Minister George Eustice reports of a £500m no-deal intervention buying scheme for beef & lamb are false: 'We think a better way is to help supplement farmers’ incomes rather than take lamb out of the market and put it into storage' He says"there is no cap on possible spending and also denying "the Government was looking to set up an intervention buying scheme of the kind described in media reports, pointing out huge amounts of cold storage capacity would be needed. We think a better way is to help supplement farmers’ incomes rather than take lamb out of the market and put it into storage.” Why not get local authorities to buy the food that would be exported..thus helping local producers?
Tenants & Landowners link up to call on government "for current policy arrangements to be kept in place until ‘the economic realities of operating outside the EU are clearer’. The letter also outlined a number of measures which could be introduced to protect farmers from the worst effects of a no-deal Brexit, such as safeguarding continued access to EU markets through Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs), which allow certain amounts of produce to enter the bloc with low or no tariffs, ensuring public bodies buy more British food and opening up new markets abroad, with high standards the key selling point." er..why not call to stay in EU?

Stockpiling

Government says it has no duty to secure food supplies in a no-deal Brexit (nor any other crisis) (Sept '19).

Hard Brexit could throw food and drink industry into chaos, according to insiders. This includes increased costs, labour shortages, need to more British workers, disruption of food chains, two tier food system, delays of organic exports, stockpiling, self-sufficiency. 'No deal' is not an option says FDF CEO
Dominoes stockpiling (Aug 19) topping ingredients. While sourcing flour and cheese from UK, they have spent £7 m buying tomato paste from portugal and few other ingredients like ifrozen chicken and all long-life ambient products, such as tuna and pineapple have been added to the stockpile.
Retailers warn of no food on shelves (Jan '19). Their letter uses the government's own estimate that freight through Calais may fall 87% from current levels, while 50% of our food comes through there. When many say 'play by WTO rules', they note only 10% of our food imports are covered by them. Health Secretary says stockpiling medicine takes precedence over food. Government (Feb) tells schools to be ‘flexible’ in event of food shortages as councils and private sector step up no-deal planning. Unilever also revealed it was stockpiling ice-cream as well as toileteries

Retailers stockpiling food

Government officials say an unpublished government report insists Britons will have “enough calories” to survive disruption following 'No Deal', but some fresh foods would quickly run out. More 'No deal' Tesco and M&S stockpiling. M&S is bulking up on "additional long-life stuff". Sainsbury chief says there isnt much capacity to stockpile - a few days only.

PM Johnson


BJ announces to Scottish farmers (Sept 6) extra £50m (in addition to promise on £160 more from Chancellor) to ensure 'fair funding across' industry. Also promise extra £5m to Wales. He said: “The cash would end the “longstanding dispute” over EU ‘convergence’ funding. ..for too long, Scottish farmers have been given a poor deal by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which is why we are taking this opportunity to change things for the better." SNP insisted" The money should have been given to farmers and crofters in Scotland in 2016."
He also said about Scottish beef and Scottish whisky that here would opportunities to sell round the world in the future. Of course, that happens now, but what he refers to is reduction of tariffs that discourage countries buying. One of the main targets for a free trade deal is India, where there are massive whisky tariffs (over 150%). However in return for reducing this tariff India wants one concession more than anything else; easier Visa access from India to UK. Oh - Scottish whisky has protected food status - meaning that to call it Scottish whisky the whisky has to be in a barrel on Scottish soil for at least 3 years. In a 'No Deal', that protected status (known as GI) would go - as it could only be 'protected' in UK. BJ was pressed on possible tariffs the US could apply to Scotch Whisky during the first PMQs after the summer recess (BJ said it was absurd). But could USA start shipping 'Scottish' whisky ...to India.
BJ said to Welsh farmers (July 30): ‘We’ll make sure [the farming sector] have the support they need. If their markets are going to be tricky, then we will help them to find new markets. ‘We have interventions that are aimed to support their incomes. ‘What the government is working on now with a great deal of energy and confidence is to ensure the farming sector is totally prepared.’ Before the trip, Johnson was warned that 40% tariffs on meat exported to the EU could lead to the mass slaughter of sheep.
Alan Cairns, Welsh Secretary, supported BJ saying that while EU trading may become more difficult, there are new markets opening up - like Japan. There is an argument whether we can just trade with Japan as our present trading with them is part of our membership of EU-Japan deal. In the first five months this year, the UK exported almost £152 million of sheep meat (including lamb and mutton) to the EU, and around £5 million outside the EU. The EU accounts for 97% of British sheep meat exports. Japan are very modest, at just £4,000 this year. (details). The idea of making inroads in Japan against competition from New Zealand & Australia, requires heavily tinted glasses.
Speaking to farmers in Cumbria on July 9, Mr Johnson said: “We have to prepare to come out without a deal - the way to do that is to ensure farmers have proper protections and they are given the insulation they need.”
But he gives no details on how. So far, he has failed to give any specifics about what protections he would give - Farmers Guardian. See Jeremy Hunt's promised 'bailout of £6B below and how it would not be legal under WTO rules to pay farmers to compensate for tariffs. So we have little idea what 'protections' are in place.
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman tweeted her concerns that "Defra has a no-deal contingency plan that would require the slaughter and burial of up to nine million sheep. This is denied by Defra, who say: "we will use our power to intervene to provide direct support to the most vulnerable sectors, such as sheep farmers, if required.” Other options include 'ewe headage payment' which would see a farmer paid for how many ewes they have. BJ has also said: ‘we should be turbo-charging [food exports] after Brexit’, 'levels of immigration should reflect the particular needs of the sectors concerned' and pledged 'to ensure rural community concerns are considered in policies'.

Farmers for Peoples Vote 'No Deal: the door to decimation of UK farming'


Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said: "In a no-deal scenario, a new tariff wall will make it incredibly difficult for UK farmers to access the EU market, resulting in oversupply in our own domestic market."

New Defra Secretary

'Brexiteer' Teresa Viliers takes over as Gove 'promoted' to Duchy of Lancaster.

Efra committee (Sept 9), Ms Villiers refused to provide details on any support schemes the government was considering to help farmers if the UK crashes out of Europe without a deal on Oct 31.


She has argued for a 'no deal' Brexit and has a somewhat mixed environmental track record. She is against 'excessive, long-distance transport of live animals for slaughter'. She has said: 'arguably we’ll have cash to spare, so it’s not impossible that we could have a more generous system (of subsidies). “Food and farming is one of the most important sectors in the UK economy…. quality, safety, traceability and compassionate treatment of animals should all be at the heart of the UK’s post-Brexit brand for food and farming.” Farmers Weekly
She tabled a debate in the Commons in 2017 'Leaving the EU:Animal; Standards in farming' when she argued that Brexit offered an opportunity for Britain to raise standards unilaterally. She wants free farrowing systems, incentives towards free range systems, and incentives to move away from broiler chickens, and a ban on zero grazing of dairy cattle (always indoors) and end export of live animals to slaughter. But she has two major problems, such financial incentives may be barred by WTO, and animal welfare is a devolved issue - it didn't matter when we all played to EU standards..but now? And it is more likely that standards will fall in the face of the onslaught of cheap food from abroad.

Tory Leadership

A senior government source revealed to possible new PM that importing fresh food through Dover would be only the third highest priority in the event of no-deal, with clean water only fifth. Jeremy Hunt in leadership bid says food & fishing industry will have £6bn government war chest *because* of Brexit. This might just represent the biggest gulf yet between pre-referendum rhetoric and post-referendum reality.
BUT HE CANT DO THAT! Those 'WTO rules' we hear about - RULE IT OUT!. Dmitry Grozoubinski of the Centre for International Trade & Sustainable Development says WTO members cannot decide their pwn farm subsidies unilaterally, and that this is 'definately illegal'. So much for 'taking back control'.
What the candidates said about their farming policy

National Food Strategy

National Food Strategy asks for help plans for a radical shake-up of the UK’s food industry.


Developing a National Food Strategy: independent review 2019. " The way we produce, distribute, market and consume food raises a series of difficult policy questions which government cannot shirk." "The National Food Strategy will build on the work underway in the Agriculture Bill, the Environment Bill, the Fisheries Bill, the Industrial Strategy and the Childhood Obesity Plan. It is intended to be an overarching strategy for government." "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to cultivate a stronger food system for the future” according to Minister Gove. It will be headed up by Henry Doubleday with a view to producing review 2020 and a White paper 6 months later. Farmers Guardian Food Security central NFU + position Henry Dimbleby speaking at City University @food_strategy

EU Elections

What are the parties saying? Abi Kay of Farmers Guardian asked each party their policy re agriculture. What each said Brexit Party said 'same as UKIP with different personnel', UKIP are to offer grants to tackle anti-microbial resistance (maybe causing antibiotic resistance in humans), introducing a Modern Food Act to ensure traceability, creating a National Agricultural Council to ensure joined-up thinking across Government, and re-establishing the Agricultural Wages Board for England - as Labour also promise. Other than that, Labour 'are still working on its agriculture manifesto'. Conservative say their Agriculture Bill will allow us to maintain and enhance environmental protections, safeguard animal welfare and support the production of high-quality food for future generations.”
The Green Party they would ‘continue to support’ public subsidy for farming, with social and environmental goods provided in return and climate-friendly agriculture prioritised." The Lib Dems say they support in principle 'the public money for public goods principle which encourages farmers to do more for the environment, but we have unique landscapes such as the uplands which need specific support'.

Devolution


Devolved governments scaremongering! "Speaking on Farmers Guardian’s latest episode of Ploughing Through Brexit, Mr Goodwill denied there was a problem"
There is a big rift developing regards 'devolution' and agricultural matters are 'devolved'. Each of four countries have different farming practices, which need to be addressed. Scotland has a lot of upland, Northern Ireland has lots of small mixed farms, and Wales is almost entirely pasture. Scotland accuse the British government of a 'power grab' to regain power.See rt column and Devolution for how this war is developing.
The Welsh government says it has no idea ow it is going to pay farmers next year. The Welsh cabinet Minister said " there have been regular meetings with counterparts from across the UK but there is now "deadlock" in the UK Government. "
Plaid Cywru want 'all European funding, including farm payments, be replaced by the UK Government'. SNP say Scottish Government would want to ‘maintain Pillar 1 payments and beef up Pillar 2 as an add-on, not a replacement’ but 'the best thing for agriculture is to stop Brexit.' More on Devolution
IrelandIrish beef farmers calling on Government for support because they have 'have suffered losses of €100m from Brexit'. And they are not in the UK!
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said in Ireland that Johnson, Rees-Mogg and Farage had not proposed any plan instead of Chequers and were acting like the 'Three Stooges'
ScotlandPM 'to give £160m in ‘back payments’ to Scottish farmers'.
Scottish Police 'prepared for public disorder following food shortages. See No deal for more.
Scottish Minster says 'Deal' OK as it protects Scottish fishing industry, as it allows independently negotiating access and quota shares. But not all happy as essentially the issue has been parked (See Coming Out/Fisheries Policy for more)
Report to Scottish Government proposes 'Right to Food' be enshrined in law.
Wales Welsh government opens up new consultatin. "Ministers are seeking views on the Sustainable Farming Scheme, which will offer active farmers in Wales an annual payment for carrying out actions to deliver desired economic, social and environmental outcomes".
A possible fresh approach to food & farming "Two factors are key. First, vibrant networks of grassroots organisations across Wales are building innovative local food enterprises.... Second, the Welsh Government has introduced radical legislation that could be used to engineer a new food economy.
Food Drink & Government working together
Northern IrelandNo 'technical fix' to Border problem - according to head of UK Border Control Group. More on N.Ireland
Ulster farmers rebuff claim that 45,000 cows may be culled. Much of their present milk goes to Ireland where made into cheese and sent back to mainland. But the introduction of tariffs, customs checks and the possibility of regulatory divergence after a no-deal Brexit could affect this flow.

Agriculture Bill

Now deceased! Prorogation prevented its 'carry over'.

Must have stronger emphasis on affordable food says Chair of EFRA Committeee. He also "pointed out the Food Strategy ('Henry Dimbleby' strategy), promised by Defra Secretary Michael Gove in June 2081 had been delayed by Brexit". Tim Lang wonders whether this 'strategy' will continue if Gove moves.Government Ag policy not recognising food production - a disaster
New Agriculture Bill published Second Reading 10/10/18 sets out "how farmers and land managers will in future be paid for “public goods”, such as better air and water quality and improved soil health"The scale of potential change has been compared to the Agriculture Act 1947, which sought to increase food production after the Second World War and introduced higher farming standards.This 2018 Bill sets out to provide the architecture for most parts of the UK (not Scotland see 'Devolution' on right)). SNP's Diedre Brock spells out the issues See below for 'Opposition' in 2nd Reading.
Agriculture Bill may be lost with Brexit delay - according to George Eustice, who resigned as DEFRA Minister last moth.
Responses from Local Government Association APPG Tim Lang Tenant Farmers Association Centre for Agroecology- could mean more megafarms EFRA Committee quiz Gove & Eustice expressing concern about maintaining standards on imported food
Tight Brexit schedule could leave Agricultural bill without proper scrutiny
Lords plot radical overhaul of Agriculture Bill for giving too much power to Minister over farmers.
This important question was raised during debate of Agriculture Bill Hansard Col 165, and is crucial in understanding how we have got to point of importing half our food compared to about quarter 25 years ago.John Redwood "Why did we lose so much market share and end up importing so much food under the CAP?"Sue Hayman (Shadow Agric Spokesperson) "That is a good question, but one to which I do not have a detailed answer—I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for that. It is a really important point: we were increasing production, but then it began to drop. It is an issue that we need to address. If there is a dramatic reduction in UK food production, greater reliance on imports would result in a lack of control over production, animal welfare, and environmental and working standards."James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) (Con)The answer lies simply in the tastes of the consumer. We like oranges—we like food that grows abroad but which we do not grow. That demand has grown over the years, so we import more. We should be careful lest we try to search for set levels of output or demand in what is still a market economy.James understood because of the Thatcher policy of 'leave it to the markets'. Yet for some reason Labour do not - despite major concerns over 'neo-liberalism' - nowhere more apparent than in our food and farming.
My response: ' to Health & Harmony' and then the Bill,. It promises the earth, but 1) does little for health and 2) does not say where the money is coming from. It sees a green and pleasant land, with 3 ) little talk about food production and 4) doesn't mention who is going to do the work - old farmers and young migrant workers? Finally, 5) it fails to mention free trade deals (promoted by same Minister (Michael Gove) and how most future FTAs would wreck any future farm policy. See Consultation for lots more.

Environmental Land Management System

Under ELMS, farmers will be encouraged to enter into a contract with the government to produce environmental land management plans, and be paid for the environmental outcomes they deliver, often working in collaboration with other farmers.
The NAO warns "that government must approach its roll-out more carefully and take the time needed to ensure farmers can prepare well." and notes "that Defra hopes to have 82,500 farmers enrolled on ELMS by 2028" and is concerned "that Defra currently has no plans to test its assumptions about the level of take-up". Farmers Guardian say "there is a strong risk that HM Treasury may not agree to maintain budgets in the event of low take-up and unspent allocations.
Foundation for Common Land says If the government don't get this right, there may be 20,000 livestock farmers and their families relying on Universal Benefits.
ELMS is intended to replace the old agr-environment schemes that were deemed pretty ineffective and cumbersome to administer. Thousands of farmers to be paid for schemes in July 2019 says government. The Rural Payments Agency do not have a good record at disbursing EU subsidies - so bad they were fined over £600MILIIONUpland Alliance look for all present subsidies to go to ELMs over long term, to make up for losses they expect to face. Which is pretty similar to what 'Nature Groups' calling for.

Minister


Gove is 'proud to back ' Farming: The Backbone of Britain which highlights "the positive contribution made by farmers and their families, not only in producing food, but as caretakers of our country’s stunning landscapes and booming wildlife populations." And rebuffs cheap food policy claims #ProudToFarm
Gove claims the hackles of EU control can now offer new Environmental Land Management, where farmers can come together to work out ways to improve soil health and sustainability, but still with emphasis on productivity, R&D is seen as important. Payment in future will be for 'public goods'. There is virtually nothing on 'food policy' - ie what food we want grown and where to address the obesity and food insecurity.

Main other EU-UK 'Deals'

Canada

This is the deal we are quite likely to end up looking like; being like Canada in the world could fit our identity. We hear people talking about being Canada +++. The big issue is that coming out of the Customs Union, still leaves us the choice of keeping our food and farm tariffs - to protect those industries. Yet Canada ++ implies doing away with those tariffs - and you often hear those wanting to remove our food tariffs supporting the Canada deal. See more on Canada deal in EU Deals with other countries

Norway

Norway is in the European Economic Area (EEA), along with the EU. This is much closer integration with the EU than a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), but equally also places greater constraints on the members’ policy discretion. The agreement does not cover agriculture or fisheries so does not include the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy or Common Fisheries Policy and that tariffs still remain. They pay into EU and have to follow standards & rules. Because the EEA is an FTA rather than a customs union the parties are free to sign separate trade agreements with third countries (as long as such agreements do not modify any technical barriers). ie They can alter tariff arrangements but not non tariff arrangements.!!

The possibility of 'no deal' has increased dramatically. Bookies now (July 18) make no deal' the 1/2 favourite (ie you have to put two on to get one back) a huge tumble from the 5/2 at the beginning of the year.
No deal will mean Britain will need to adopt European Customs Union tariff rates as its WTO default position. It will wreck havoc throughout the food chain.
See new page 'No Deal' for latest.

White Paper

PM proposals to Cabinet (July 18) 'The UK will "maintain a common rulebook for all goods" with the EU, including agricultural products. More on Chequers Plan . Government plan - after 2 years. See how it relates with food and farming. Arising from the 'Chequers Pan', the White Paper for our proposed relationship with the EU "looks more like a wish list of future food trade with the EU rather than anything the remaining 27 members states are ever likely to accept. The suggestion, for example, that the EU would allow 'no tariffs' on any food goods traded between the UK and EU but at the same time leave the UK free to 'control its own tariffs for trade with the rest of the world' fanciful, verging on fantatist" Private Eye Bio-Waste Spreader
Cereals 2018 has lost around a quarter of attendees in last couple of years, maybe due to concerns over cereals future. Only 8% of arable farms would make a profit without CAP subsidies - promised but not guaranteed where. These would be on the very best land. What about the rest. So investment in v expensive gear is down, while our food trade deficit rises beyond its present $33b. See Bittersweet Brexit Chap 'Buy British', for lots more.

What could happen

House of Lords European Committee Brexit: Food prices and availability found: "that even in the ‘best case scenario’, with no tariffs and few customs barriers, international rules would oblige the UK to conduct more customs and borders checks than is currently the case. If an agreement cannot be negotiated by the time the UK leaves the EU the increase in tariffs could lead to significant price rises for consumers." Chair's Statement
BBC Tuesday Feb 20 Brexit and food - Chris Morris discovers what leaving the EU could mean for the British baked potato. BBC What do farmers think about Brexit? Some see export opportunities - eg China and Qatar, others see reliance on EU migrant workforceBBC Farming Today 'Where are we heading with year to go to Brexit?' Chatham House chapter, Vicki Hird from Sustain, Director of Exit at NFU and Arable farmer discuss. Available to 22 April.
Is Britain sleepwalking into a food crisis? "The wider backlash against neoliberalism has not touched the sanctity of market mechanisms in agriculture, even though the markets that serve it fulfil their purpose of balancing supply and demand through the price system only fitfully. " If at allFarmers Guardian sets up hub to debate as 'food is being tippexed out of government consultation' with one year to go. Includes Prof Tim Lang's 'Take Food Security Seriously' saying: "In about 30 months, the UK must have sorted how it is to be fed – by whom, on what terms, at what price, with what impact. At present, no-one seems to have a clue."
Local Authorities should prepare Brexit Food plans "Preparations to ensure we have a safe, adequate and sustainable food supply need to start urgently. Local Authorities (LAs) have a vital part to play in these preparations, but Government has so far neglected to provide guidance.

Opposition

Defra Shadow team 'upped its game' at Labour Conference Sept 18 highlighting "the importance of food production and security, the need to fix broken supply chains, the protection of domestic standards in trade deals, the necessity of long-term budgets and a desire to safeguard the wider rural economy."
Sue Hayman (Shadow DEFRA) "When you are looking at public payments for public goods, that has to include food, because the security of our food supply is beyond a public good, it is a moral imperative,” On her Facebook page she says she " will be bringing forward a Food Manifesto aimed at reducing food inequality. Labour will work with Britain's farmers to make sure UK food growing and production is a top priority."
Sue Hayman during Agriculture Bill
"It fails to ​provide a strategy to safeguard the nation’s food supply at a time when food poverty and foodbank demand are rising rapidly alongside an epidemic in food-related health inequality, fails to recognise the central importance of UK sustainable food production and supply, leading to a greater reliance on imports, while failing to provide for controls over the production methods, working conditions, or animal welfare and environmental standards in countries from which the UK’s food is imported."
Rebecca Pow pointed out: "It is interesting that she was not given a major slot on the main stage at the Labour conference".
Labour say they want 'A' Customs Union - rather than 'THE' Customs Union. What this means

Labour Party


Another World is possible David Drew Shadow EFRA "“Food is incredibly political because, along with housing, it is the most basic of all issues. You can’t ignore the politics of who produces your food, what they produce, who it’s for, what you sell it for, whether it is what people should be eating and whether they get enough of it. We need a real food policy, " He reviews
Fabian Society 'Labour Country; rebuild connection with rural voters' says: "Labour must reconnect with the politics and culture of the countryside to be confident of winning the next general election...Labour should pursue an economic strategy that delivers for rural areas and helps overcome the cultural and economic divisions in society. This would focus on enabling rural people to find economic success and social status close to home...Labour can stress that the Conservatives are tearing up, rather than conserving, our national heritage" Quite agree, and there are lots of ideas for this in a certain book..
The Future of Farming says: "Brexit offers opportunities for progressives to win back trust in rural Britain".
Labour's radical action on Animal Welfare would look at introducing a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter, consult landlords on giving tenants the right to keep a pet, strengthen the Hunting Act, enshrine the principal of animal sentience in law, end the badger cull, implement a review of animal testing and expand affordable vet care for people on low incomes.

JC @ Tolpuddle says "No Deal would devastate our agricultural sector, destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs, and see us reduced to eating chlorinated chicken from the US.” Also pledges to bring back AWB

Labour in Rural areas


At present Labour hold only 32 out of 199 rural seats. There are political opportunities for progressives, when there is the "real possibility of the Conservatives – who have traditionally dominated in rural areas – presiding over a ‘botched Brexit’ in which the UK falls off a ‘no deal’ cliff edge".
The report suggest a ‘buy-British’ voucher – replacing all area-based payments to British farmers with a voucher for every household to buy British produce. I suggest a modification of this - called 'incentive vouchers' (based on US SNAP incentives) for buying fruit and vegetables - good for health and local economy. London Mayor proposing Healthy Start vouchers See What we can do for more

DEFRA

Dept for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs


Civil Service staff at DEFRA offered counselling to deal with 'No Deal' stress (Mar '19). More than 1,300 employees have been recruited to assist with its contingency preparations.
Public Affairs Committee may look into NAO report that Defra not prepared fro 'No deal' over 2 years after referendum having completed only 15 of 154 agreements re trade and needing to pass 3 bills and 94 Statutory Instruments in next 6 months, despite Gove saying recently his department would be ready
Defra have taken on an extra 1,200 people working directly on Brexit, as it seeks to replace the EU's Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies, following on from contraction of 1,000 over previous Coalition years.
March 2018 Defra now says it has opened up 70 new workstreams to deal with Brexit issues - up from 43 just 3 months ago.
Defra should loose its responsibility for 'rural affairs', which should go to Housing & Communities, says to Lords Committee
DEFRA in dark over Brexit negotiations "Their preparations are being hampered by the pervasive uncertainty about the UK's future relationship with the EU, which leaves not only departments but also businesses in the dark about exactly what they need to do to prepare."
Senior Advisor job @ DEFRA on EU Exit - closing date extended. Job description.
Defra Polcy structure Feb '19. Head of Negotiation Teams for EU Exit - closing date Mar 6..that gives 3 weeks to sort things out!
400 staff from Environment Agency have been raided and redeployed to sort Brexit, jeopardising their plans for flooding, recycling, prosecutions, pollution...
DEFRA's progress is too complacent while fundamental issues remain and little engagement with business. Nov '18
More about DEFRA in 'No Deal' scenario

Key characters' comments

NFU chair says: “Looking beyond Brexit, I see a progressive food and farming industry which focuses on four key areas – moral imperative, health and nutrition, integrity and standards, and working with nature –and delivers for all corners of society while fulfilling our moral obligations in a global economy and a changing world.
Arla say (July 18) "dairy products may become luxuries" "Everyday dairy products such as butter, yoghurt and cheese could become luxury items in Britain after Brexit, with price rises being caused by the slightest delay in the journey from farm to table, a report by the London School of Economics finds. The LSE research, commissioned by the company behind Lurpak, Anchor and Arla brands, also found that speciality cheeses could become scarce after Brexit".
AHDB One Year to go debate with Ben Briggs Farmers Guardian, Phil Bicknell AHDB, Tom Keen NFU & John Richards HCC. Concerns include lack of connection between trade and farm policy, yet hugely interlinked.Food Foundation say that "a triple impact of exchange rates, labour costs and tariffs are likely to make it even harder for us all to get our 5-a-day. Those on a low income, such as the 1 in 5 people earning below the Real Living Wage, will be impacted the most"
AHDB Report on Brexit Scenarios maps out "the range of possible post-Brexit situations and quantify their impact on UK farming, so far lacking from the post-referendum debate." The UK will still want to import Italian parma ham, Spanish chorizo, Irish beef, French cheeses etc. In these cases, even if the UK does not impose tariffs, there will be higher trade costs moving these goods through customs and port health checks. The AHDB estimates these additional costs could add 8 per cent to food from the EU
The head of the dairy giant ARLA, indirectly responsible for over 100,000 jobs, said their industry is facing "the biggest seismic change in the political and financial landscape in our lifetime" and called on the UK Government “to publish its future plans for agriculture in the UK through a parliamentary bill at the earliest opportunity early next year ". What's on the menu outside the EU? "Will the price of food in supermarkets go up, or down? And will food safety standards change? "
What ADAS says farmers need to do to prepare for Brexit
Select Committee says farm businesses 'could be wiped out after Brexit transition'. The Environment Food Agriculture & rural Affairs Committee asks the government "to consider establishing a special fund to support agriculture, which is facing some of the highest tariffs in WTO’s rules in addition to the loss of EU subsidies." See 'Bittersweet Brexit; book for details of the complexity of the tariff system and how it's massive impact on food and farm trade.
UK NFU - for England, Scotland, Wales and NI Say "While we are leaving the political union, we must retain frictionless access to European markets. Governments across the UK are ‘taking back control’ for agricultural policy. The farming ministers in all four regions must collaborate, as the UK farming unions are doing" We shall see.EU Response on how Brexit will affect EU

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Economist technology for a Hunger Free world Conference September
Any sort of hard Brexit will destroy Shropshire farming says new MEP
George Eustice's onging confidence on BrexitNearly 60% farmers back May's deal (rather than No Deal).
Tory MPs back taxes on fertilisers and pesticides "The document – backed by 41 MPs – also hits out at ‘factory farming’, urges people to eat less meat and pushes for the reintroduction of native species, including the lynx. " This was backed by Boris and Hunt,."he document said Government should: “Tax fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides at the point of production. “These products are all easily identified and charged. Artificial fertilisers would become much more expensive, with a price which reflects the carbon produced in making them – which is a very energy intensive process – and the damage done to waterways, flora, fauna and soils."
George Eustice resigns form Cabinet because the government has "allowed the postponement of our exit from the EU". Previously a UKIPer and Brexit voter he reconciled many differences to 'craft two new bills on farming and fishing'. 'We need to reclaim our freedom first and talk afterwards' saying that we must be 'prepared to walk through the door'. George was the Minister who promised Welsh farmers a few days before the Referendum that the subsidies would be 'as generous' only to say a month later that he could not "‘guarantee that future agricultural support programmes will be as generous as current EU subsidies". Bittersweet Brexit p34 for more.
Here in lies the sham that Gove & Eustice made. While making out they wanted a green Brexit - and could get most of what they wanted by altering the Farm & Fishing Policies, both within May's Deal', they are adamant 'free marketeers'. They to make Free Trade Agreements - and have control over tariffs - which will almost certainly be detrimental to UK Food and Farming.
"Businesses throughout the UK food chain - and their trade associations - are now totally focused on working to mitigate the catastrophic impact of a no-deal Brexit," says Food & Drink industry Feb 19
The post-Brexit Food System - its really really scary - according to good review from afar - New York Times. "Farmers, bakers and food producers have added their voices to warnings that Brexit could become a dinner plate issue. And they weren’t mincing words. "
MPs reject May deal by massive amount. Everything farmers need to know She wheels round Plan B on basis of agreement with EU over the backstop, when EU say they wont.
'Withdrawal Deal'agreed by Cabinet 15/11/18 including Gove and Fox (but not Raab). Fox cannot go out and do deals till 2020. Gove probably agrees because the deal does mean coming out of the Common Agricultural and Fishing policies - and thus enabling his 'green Brexit'- his main prize. See also 'Coming Out'/Fisheries
The Withdrawl deal (to be voted on 15/01) addresses leaving the EU, while the future relationship is much vaguer. UK appoints DEFRA Minister for Food Supplies post Brexit. David Rutley previously worked for Pepsico, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Safeway and ASDA. Can we now expect vans coming down our street selling chicken nuggets & coke?Farmers 70+% confident and food business 80+% confident of future prospects when in the EU, but this falls to 37% & 51% respectively once outside the EU.
Knight Frank's Rural Report finds farmers opinions on Brexit split down middle with opposing sides getting more polarised. Doesn't distinguish which farmers wanted what.