|PAN UK sets out its vision for UK agriculture outside the EU|
Brexit has major implications for UK agriculture. PAN UK is calling on the government to take this opportunity to create a new agricultural system that works for farmers and the environment by replacing the flawed common agricultural policy with a new system that rewards farmers for looking after our environment; gives smaller farmers a greater share of the subsidies; and supports organic agriculture. Brexit should not be an excuse to roll back environmental protection, in fact we should do more to boost biodiversity and cut pesticide use.
I. Use subsidies to promote greener agricultural practices, support farmers and protect our countryside
The UK should move away from a system of flat rate acreage subsidy to one that supports practices that enhance biodiversity. Growing a wider variety of food, with more mixed agriculture, wider crop rotation and lower field size will create more resilient and sustainable farming systems better able to cope with and help tackle climate change. There need not be a conflict between productivity and sustainability - It is possible to have both.
II. Establish strong regulatory controls on pesticides including targets and incentives to cut pesticide use.
It is possible to cut pesticide use while maintaining yields and profits, but farmers need help and incentives to do so. The UK should introduce a national target to cut pesticide use, ban the most Highly Hazardous Pesticides and promote less harmful and non-chemical methods of managing pests, diseases and weeds.
III. Support farmers wanting to adopt more environmentally friendly practices – including organic – with training and practical research.
Invest in research to develop and improve sustainable farming approaches and provide training and advice to those who want help to adopt them.
IV. Support diverse, family and small-scale farms.
Target subsidies to support a thriving and diverse farming sector by giving small and medium scale farmers – not just big agribusiness – a greater share of the subsidies and help them to access markets. This will encourage young people to stay in the industry and reverse the exodus from the sector.
V. Support the organic sector to grow.
Organic farmers in the UK receive much less support than their continental peers, and as a result organic farming only accounts for about 2% of UK production, compared to as much as 10% in some European countries. The new system should provide more support to help farmers convert to organic and drive market demand for organic products.