Brexit: NFU responds to public spending review

Minette Batters June 2018_55261

Some of the commitments outlined in the review include a 3.3% funding increase for Defra, with a further £432 million of funding for Brexit, £20 million to support the delivery of Defra’s replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy and additional funds for biodiversity and animal health initiatives.

NFU members: Click here for a full briefing on the spending review from the NFU's economics experts

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NFU President Minette Batters said:

“It’s encouraging to see the government provide additional funding for Brexit, but it is crucial that any exit from the EU is smooth and orderly to enable this money to be used to help build a productive and profitable food and farming industry, rather than trying to mitigate the serious damage a no-deal would have on British food production.

“The government’s plans to move away from BPS payments will have a huge impact on farmers especially given the ongoing uncertainty relating to our departure from the EU. Plans to bolster Defra’s budget by £20 million to help the government deliver a future domestic agricultural policy is welcome, but we still need clarity from government as that what exactly this new scheme will look like and we eagerly await return of the Agriculture Bill to Parliament for debate.

“The industry also requires further detail on how the government intends to deliver its full fibre broadband targets as the lack of access to broadband in rural areas remains a real barrier for farm businesses."

Support budget for farming 2020-22

On Friday 6 September, the UK government pledged an additional £51.4 million per year for Scottish farmers for the next two years, in addition to a one-off payment of £160 million outlined in the spending review.

Wales will see an increase of £5.2 million per year for the next two years, with budgets in England and Northern Ireland remaining unchanged.

NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz said:

“We’re pleased that the UK government has provided reassurance that the budget for English farm support is secure for the years 2020-22. However, it is important that the significant additional cash boost to the Scottish farming budget does not lead to distortions in the internal UK market.

“We trust the government will keep a close eye on the impact of this funding decision on the competitiveness of farmers across the UK at this very uncertain time.”