The government looks set to break Vote Leave promises to farmers.
Boris Johnson said ‘we want to fund and support agriculture’
Vote Leave promised farmers will be better off
On 25th February 2020, the Financial Times reported that ‘English farmers face subsidy cuts up to 25%’
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said “It would be an absolute dereliction of duty . . . to allow us to go into a new regime of public money for public goods when we have no idea who we will be trading with. We need to pause”
The government has also opted not to guarantee food standards in the new Farm Bill. In contrast to his predecessor Theresa Villiers who promised legal protections, the new environment secretary George Eustice has said that there is “a discussion to be had”. This has prompted fears that a US trade deal could open Britain to imported food such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef.
Also, in the event of no trade deal or a bad deal, exporters of farm products to the big markets in the EU will face tariffs and regulatory barriers. Quite how farmers will then be ‘better off’ as promised by Vote Leave is far from clear.