Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Brannen

BREXIT will impact on many aspects of life in the UK but none more so than agriculture, with a resulting knock-on effect on rural Britain.

Why? Outside of the European Union, the UK will be released from the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), meaning that the current EU subsidy scheme to farmers will end and be replaced with a UK payments programme with different rules, an approach signalled by the present government.

The good news for farmers is they have much to offer the UK public that a majority of us would think was well worth paying for, with high-quality food being top of the list, plus good animal welfare, flood prevention, wildlife promotion, climate change mitigation, enhancing the beauty of the countryside etc.

It is a long list and one that many "townies" would be willing to see their taxes paying for.

The bad news is that there will be significantly less money after 2020 because the UK is a net contributor to the EU and, without us, they will have less money. Hence, after this date, a cut to the CAP of somewhere between 10% and 20% is coming, which the UK government will then match - something they have yet to be honest about and state publicly.

One consequence of Brexit, not much talked about, is that the landscape of the UK will change as result of the funding to farmers being tied to specific services rather than for holding a certain acreage of land.

This will lead to a hullabaloo, akin to when oil seed rape production in the UK really took off in the 1980s. Some people found the bright yellow flowers that popped up in great streaks across the British landscape unacceptably alien, resulting in letters of outrage being printed in The Times.

Going forward, I predict an increase in fields of solar panels, a "crop" you can increasingly see along the route of the east coast main line, especially near Peterborough.

A switch away from sheep to trees - visually a big change - is both inevitable and desirable. Inevitable because hill farmers currently can receive up to 80% of their income in CAP subsidies, a state of affairs that seems highly unlikely to continue after Brexit. …

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