Michael Gove’s plans to reduce farm subsidies paid to British farmers after the UK leaves the European Union directly contradict the promises made by Boris Johnson during the Brexit campaign.
Speaking at Gisburn Auction Mart in Clitheroe on 2 June 2016, Johnson assured farmers that the subsidies paid out as part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would continue at their current rate after the UK leaves the EU.
When asked by a reporter from the Farmer’s Guardian as to whether farmers he would “guarantee farmers would get exactly the same amount of payments as they do already form the EU?”
“That’s what we’re saying and that’s what farming minister George Eustice has said. No government in it’s right mind is going to want to take away support for farming.”
The now foreign secretary went on to question whether farmers could reply on the CAP subsidies continuing from Brussels, implying that farmers could better rely on a post-Brexit Britain to maintain their current levels of funding.
However, earlier today environment secretary Michael Gove made clear that farming subsidies would only continue at their current rate for up to three years after the UK leaves the EU. After this time he made clear the government aims to reduce the largest subsidies with a maximum cap or sliding scale of reductions.
These changes will have a dramatic impact on farmers, many of whom will need to change their entire business model if they are not supported by state subsidy, which could have a major impact on the UK’s food supply.
Gove’s comments come after an APPGA report found that post-Brexit trade deals could pose the biggest peacetime threat to the UK’s food security. The parliamentary group said that cheaper foods imported from countries with lower safety and welfare standards, such as the US, could put UK farmers at a disadvantage in the global marketplace.
The report said:
“To compete with these lower prices, domestic farmers could seek to tighten their margins and therefore cut corners with regards to environmental regulations…If the UK is unable to protect its farmers from being undermined by lower welfare imports, farmers are likely to resist improvements and may even press for UK standards to be lowered.”