Earlier this week, the Government finished its consultation on the future of food and farming after Brexit. I have responded to the consultation to express my severe concerns about potential damage to the Teesdale farming economy.
Leaving the EU has given the Government the opportunity to create new policies on agriculture, but these new proposals on trade and support payments could have serious impacts on tenant farmers and sheep hill-farmers in Teesdale.
Losing our domestic and EU markets is a real risk. Worryingly, the Government wants to import cheaper meat from New Zealand, Australia, and Latin America, which would threaten meat sales within the UK. With the EU as our biggest partner and our only customer for lamb, leaving the customs union will be catastrophic for exporting.
If the Government is successful in not replacing the EU’s direct payments to farmers, they will be paid according to how much produce they can offer. In reality, this means that tenant farmers will see an increase in rent prices or important work, like walling, will be neglected or abandoned.
Bad policies could mean that our farmers are facing irrecoverable losses within just 20 years.
Teesdale is a unique natural environment with excellent biodiversity and a flourishing farming community. I have responded to the consultation and I am putting the Government under pressure to protect our farmers and their livelihoods.