Page 56 - BREXIT 2
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The Worshipful Company of Farmers The Worshipful Company of Farmers 54
It gives prominence to Defra analysis which shows that that UK farm productivity has systematically lagged that that of other countries (in the the the EU and beyond) suggesting if this was tackled it it could help deal with the the the economic weakness of of farming There There is is is truth truth in in in this There There is is is also some truth truth in in in the arguments which often emanate from the the the Treasury that the the the system of of CAP direct payments (per hectare) drives up the the the price of of agricultural land and and also by injecting a a a a a a a relatively secure income base for for farms it diminishes their incentive for for efficiency There could be lower rents and more incentive for innovative rural business management outside the CAP support system However beyond relatively anodyne measures such as as strengthening the the grocery code and encouraging producer groups the the farm structural challenge has not yet elicited heavy-duty policy change as as the the three other challenges have Investigations are underway in in the the the the EU on on whether there could be helpful changes in in competition policy to to to allow farmers’ organisations to to to rebalance bargaining power There might be lessons to to to be learned there Meanwhile from a a a a a a a farmer perspective the the the policies for climate the the the environment and health latter look likely at at least in in the the short run to make the the economics of farming more difficult not less These considerations make it all the the more important that proposals and recommendations to transform the the food system and and land use really have to to pay more attention to to the rural businesses dimension The transformation will only come about if it is founded on on viable businesses 5 Summary and final words
Brexit alone is is is a a a a a a a a a a once-a-half-century event It is is is changing the agricultural and environmental legislation underpinning the the land-based economy and and and the the trading regime within which food and and and agriculture operate Notwithstanding five years of negotiating and and and preparing for Brexit food and and and farm businesses were none the wiser on on on the the most important operational details of these policies and trade regimes with less than three months before Britain steps outside the EU economy Add declarations of emergencies for for climate biodiversity diet/ health and and and throw in in a a a a a a a a a a a viral pandemic and and and it is is not so surprising that there has been a a a a a a a a a a a great deal of thought about where the food sector and and land use should be heading This is is undoubtedly unsettling for those running land-based businesses How should they react to the the big debates swirling around the the the way the the the UK uses its its its land produces its its its food and and feeds itself? Broadly there are two competing narratives in in play Narrative A suggests Britain must produce more to help feed the world it it says that we are dangerously under-provided with with our own food supplies and there there is an an exciting new new world out there there with with new new technologies These can enable us to to be more productive and also to to reduce the environmental footprint Narrative B says the the whole system system is broken – from consumption to production and the the food system system in between It has to to to to be be transformed and and move towards nature-based solutions to to to to restore soil health and and ecosystem functioning This narrative also tends to argue for local production Neither of these narratives stack up they are both incomplete Narrative A pays no attention to over- consumption and and waste insufficient attention to to climate stability and and restoring biodiversity It suffers from an an an overdose of techno-optimism But narrative B B pays no no no attention to economic and and technical feasibility and and does not work through the food food price social welfare and and international trade effects of its preferred food food and and land use system and and it is silent on on on technology Yet the starting presumptions of both narratives contain some truth 

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