Opportunities and challenges for UK agriculture
We argue that the goals of an Independent UK Agricultural Policy could be as follows:
- To provide good quality, affordable food for consumers.
- To support British farmers such that they can be competitive in domestic
and global markets.
- To protect our environment and preserve the UK’s agricultural traditions.
In order to achieve these goals while leaving the EU, the paper recommends:
- Making the most of leaving the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), by moving away from the Common External Tariff (CET), and amber box production subsidies (recognising that the UK’s amber box subsidies are already low).
- A more positive approach to new technologies, allowing farmers to innovate and move away from environmentally degrading old technologies.
- Pursuit of agricultural liberalisation as part of an independent trade and regulatory policy, while maintaining defensive measures where appropriate to protect producers from distortions.
The paper further discusses ways in which transition to a new UK agricultural policy can be made in a manner that is least disruptive for existing producers, including through the use of transitional grants and a gradual phasing out of certain subsidies.
The paper recommends that the UK exit with a deal that includes a transition/implementation period so as to allow continued support while new policies are put in place. However, in the event of a ‘no deal’ exit, certain necessary steps that the UK could take to protect consumers are discussed. These include the removal of all tariff and quota restrictions on a number of foodstuffs which the UK does not produce, as well as opening tariff rate quotas up erga omnes to allow competition from efficient global producers, especially for the beef and dairy sectors.