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The Agricultural Bill: A Threat to UK Farming Standards

I have to say I am very disappointed that the agricultural bill went through parliament yesterday with no amendments, especially when food security has been at the top of the agenda - how many weeks is it since the supermarket shelves were empty? I know from conversations I have had today, the farming community feel the same way.

I feel very strongly that the Bill passing in its current form is a very bad deal for UK Agriculture; it has no protection for the high standard and high welfare of food we are required to produce by current regulations, and it will allow cheap imports of questionable standard and environmental impact to flood in.

This worrying concern over the government’s intentions was further highlighted this morning when it was indicated that they are already talking about removing the trade tariffs on imports form the USA - so chlorinated chicken is on its way!!

So in effect, UK farmers are now going to have to try and compete on an even more un-level playing field, the higher standards and welfare rules that we happily comply with inevitably do mean extra cost which imported goods simply won’t have to adhere to. This is undoubtedly going to put pressure on the UK farm gate price, add to this that the Agriculture Bill also puts in place the removal of the Basic Payment Scheme support by 2027, and it is easy to see why the farming industry is worried, as all of these actions will reduce income for an already under pressure UK farming sector.

Do I see glimmers of hope? Yes, but we will have to push them hard:

  • There is an opportunity to market our high quality welfare product to the public as a proportion of consumers notably do want the product. Shoppers have the ultimate say of what supermarkets sell, so if we can get the consumer to demand it that will certainly help. We undoubtedly have a great story to tell about the sustainable product we produce.
  • The new Environmental Land Management Scheme will offer some opportunities to replace lost income, but as it is currently on hold in parliament, at this time that seems a long way off.
  • Farmers will have to look at quality rather than quantity and produce what their farm allows

All said we shouldn’t be too demoralised. As one client rightly reminded me, there has been a flood of food imports into the UK for years and we will just have to keep producing our quality products.

Never has there been a more appropriate time to understand how each part of your business performs financially, and having a detailed understanding of cash flows for the months ahead is essential to ensure that informed decisions can be taken.

If you would like to read Andrew's summary of the recent Agricuture Bill with guidance on how the agricultural policy will develop in the coming year, please click here.

For more information about how the Agriculture Bill may impact your farming business, get in touch with Andrew by calling 01228 690200 or email andrew.robinson@armstrongwatso.co.uk

Contact Andrew

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