[ Diretor: Mário Frota [ Coordenador Editorial: José Carlos Fernandes Pereira [ Fundado em 30-11-1999 [ Edição III [ Ano XII

quinta-feira, 17 de agosto de 2017

Brexit is a chance for farming reform – but we must get the policy right

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.com PLC.

As a net importer of food, Britain is unlikely to prioritise its agricultural exports in future trade deals.
 [Robert Linsdell/Flickr]

Ngaire Woods is dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and founder of the Global Economic Governance Programme at the University of Oxford. This editorial was first published in The Guardian.

As it stands, large parts of UK agriculture are locked into the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is accused of driving the sector toward larger, more industrial and more environmentally damaging practices, including by failing to support farm diversity and directing payments to Britain’s wealthiest landowners. A 2005 investigation found that the £3 billion (€3.3bn) in subsidies that the UK receives from the CAP went largely to major agribusiness and food-manufacturing companies, such as Nestlé, Cadbury, and Kraft.

Once freed from the flawed CAP, Brexit’s proponents argue, the UK will be able to build a more competitive agricultural sector that better serves farmers and agricultural workers, including by reducing dependence on distorting subsidies. And they could be right. In New Zealand, the abolition of subsidies in 1984 helped to catalyse innovation and diversification in the agricultural sector, which today drives New Zealand’s economic growth.

Despite labour shortage, British farmers aim for post-Brexit food self-sufficiency

British fruit farmers have warned the future of their sector is at risk because they cannot find enough seasonal workers to pick their produce. However, Farmers still see Brexit as an opportunity to adopt policies that would make the country more food self-efficient.

It should be noted, however, that New Zealand’s agricultural sector had decades of experience surviving without subsidies. Indeed, those that were abolished in 1984 had been created in the 1970s as a short-term solution to new challenges to the sector.

In the UK, by contrast, subsidies are deeply entrenched and flow to powerful wealthy supporters of the current government. This may explain why the government’s Brexit strategy proposes sustaining subsidies, to be paid for directly from the British public purse.


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