BRITISH FARMERS LOOKING TO SHORT-TERM PROFITS AS SUBSIDY FEARS GROW, NT WARNS

The ‘clock is ticking’ for British farmers as they face a decade of uncertainty surrounding post-Brexit subsidies, according to the National Trust.

Speaking at Countryfile Live in Oxfordshire in August, the Trust’s director general Dame Helen Ghosh said that some farmers are reverting to intensive methods for short-term profits due to growing uncertainty.

There is concern that such methods are harming the environment and surrounding wildlife.

“We have already seen examples of short-term decision-making, where farmers, in response to uncertainty about the future and income, have ploughed up pasture which was created with support from EU environmental money.

“It’s very understandable, but heart-breaking,” she said.

She called on the government to maintain the EU’s £3bn-a-year support package for the industry with clear incentives for nature-friendly farming along with clear guarantees for farmers that food standards and environmental protections will be maintained.

“The longer we wait, the more we risk losing all the gains we have made over the last decade.”

The government has promised to keep overall subsidies at the same level until 2022, but environment secretary Michael Gove said the money would have to be earned through environmentally-friendly agriculture as part of a ‘green Brexit.’

Dame Ghosh said at the event at Blenheim Palace: “We are within touching distance of a vision for the future of farming that sees thriving businesses successfully meeting the needs of the nation into the 21st century and beyond.

“The longer we wait, the more we risk losing all the gains we have made over the last decade.”

A DEFRA spokesman said: “Leaving the EU provides us with a golden opportunity to set up new frameworks for supporting our farmers to grow more, sell more and export more great British food.

“We have committed to match the £3 billion agricultural support until 2022 and the Environment Secretary has said that support for our farmers will continue for many years to come where the environmental benefits of that spending are clear.

“As we develop this new approach to food and farming outside the EU we will not compromise on our high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection.”

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