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DEFRA minister speech fails to answer key questions - Farron

February 21, 2017 5:01 PM

Tim Farron farmingSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has accused the DEFRA Minister Andrea Leadsom of failing to answer key questions about the future of the farming industry in a speech she gave to the NFU today, saying she offered only "empty platitudes".

In a speech to the NFU conference, Andrea Leadsom described Brexit as an "opportunity to transform our food and farming policies", but failed to set out any detail on what would follow.

Tim is pushing for the government to retain membership of the single market, as well as to commit to continuing farm support payments post-2020.

Tim said: "This speech failed to provide any detail which would reassure farmers about the future of their industry. On the key questions of trade and farm payments, this speech told us nothing.

"The Minister described tariff-free trade as the starting point for negotiations, but farmers need to know what the end point will be. At the moment, there is a very real danger that we will crash out of the single market without any transitional arrangements, and farmers will face massive tariffs on their exports. This would be disastrous. Three quarters of farming exports go to Europe - farmers need to know what access they will have to this vital market.

"On the key issue of farm payments, the Minister was equally ambiguous. She talked about the importance of these payments, but also said that the current system offers 'poor value for money'. Farmers need to know what alternatives the government has planned for post-2020.

"In order to invest for the future, farmers desperately need answers to these questions. Instead, Leadsom offered only empty platitudes."