Kelvin Fletcher on the challenges of going into farming
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The Conservative Party has long been known to be able to rely on a fairly sizeable level of support from farmers across the country. But many appear now to have taken the view Government mishaps around its handling of Brexit mean their support will be withdrawn when they are next called from the field to the ballot box.
Andrew Ward, a Lincolnshire arable farmer with responsibility for 1,600 acres, voted for Mr Johnson and the Conservative Party in the 2019 election.
But the told the Financial Times he has since changed his mind.
He said: “I will not be doing [that] next time, that’s for sure…
“Every sector in agriculture is heading into a desperate situation.”
One of Mr Ward’s major concerns was the change in subsidies given to farmers since Brexit.
He told the paper: “We were getting about £220 a hectare [before the changes].
“Now, one of the new schemes gives you £40 and the other £70. It’s just not enough.”
There is also frustration over Brexit trade deals which removes tariffs and trade taxes from imports of important goods into Britain.
READ MORE: Brexit fury as ‘serious threat’ to farmers picked out in trade deal
One such post-Brexit deal with New Zealand will see tariffs removed from lamb, beef and butter imported from New Zealand, placing pressure on UK farmers who are likely, in some cases, to be out-competed.
Mr Ward suggested Tory ministers appeared uninterested in having food produced at home by British farmers.
Instead, they have bowed to “tree-huggers and environmentalists”.
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He said: “All they want is birds, bees and trees.
“They don’t want food produced in the UK.”
Farmer and writer Joe Stanley asked in a post on Twitter: “When will the Government start to work with British industry?”
He described the following as a “good summary” of where British farmers stand today: “Support is being slashed, standards/costs are increasing [and there’s a] huge competition from trade [as well as] huge labour shortages.”
He stressed “all this is clear”.
But policies are “muddled”, creating more “uncertainty”, rather than the clear support that was a suggested result of the Government’s approach to Brexit.
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