Andrew Shirley, Head of Rural Research, comments:

While the focus of farmers and landowners is unsurprisingly on the continued Brexit debacle, potentially bigger long-term challenges to the industry are waiting in the wings.

The Government’s plan to slash ammonia emissions, for example, could have far reaching consequences, particularly on the livestock sector. Leaving the EU, if indeed we ever do, will just be one the things that the countryside will have to cope with.

Avoid no-deal Brexit at all costs, warns Farming Roundtable

The UK Farming Roundtable – made up of organisations representing all agricultural sectors - has warned about the ‘severe’ impact a no-deal Brexit will have for UK food and farming, following MPs’ rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit proposal.

Minette Batters, NFU President, said: “The Roundtable was particularly concerned that some Parliamentarians continue to make the case that ‘no-deal’ would be a manageable and acceptable outcome to Brexit. Members of the UK Farming Roundtable categorically do not share such a view.”

She added: “There is a very real risk that a disorderly Brexit will lead to an immediate reliance on imports which have been produced to lower standards, while many UK farms struggle to survive.

"The implications, not only for the domestic food supply and our wider economy, but for the careful management of our leon cherished countryside, would represent an historic political failure. A no-deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs.”

Scotland to develop its own Agriculture Bill

The Scottish Government has announced that it does not intend to take on the UK Agriculture Bill, and will instead introduce a Bill in the Scottish Parliament to implement its own Stability and Simplicity proposals.

The Scottish Bill will enable the Government to make payments in 2020 and subsequently develop and implement its own non-CAP agricultural policy beyond the transition period. 

“We are ready for the debate on the shape of future policy and support,” said Jonnie Hall, director of policy at NFU Scotland. “Whilst it is important that we have continuity and stability through transition, the ability to develop and implement new agricultural policies that are bespoke to the unique and differing needs of Scotland must be the focal point.”  

Scotland and Wales to seek £ billions in no-deal compensation

Scotland and Wales plan to seek billions of pounds from the UK Government to support farmers in the case of a no-deal Brexit. According to a report in Farmers Guardian, Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s rural economy secretary said: “We will continue to champion the case for farmers, and if there are losses resulting from a no-deal, then Mr Gove is responsible for them.”

Welsh rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths also said that Wales should not foot the bill to support farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“We expect the UK Government to ensure it can meet any additional costs imposed by managing a no-deal and responding to its possible impact on farmers,” said a Welsh Government spokesman. “We have been clear Wales must not lose out as a result of leaving the EU.”

New restrictions to tackle ammonia emissions

The Government’s “world leading” plan to tackle air pollution will introduce new restrictions on farm spreading of manure and slurry. 

In the UK, agriculture is responsible for 88% of all ammonia emissions – one-quarter of which comes from losses resulting from manure application, 23% of which comes from fertiliser application and 27% from livestock housing. 

According to a report in Farmers Weekly, the Government plans to reduce ammonia emissions from farming, including introducing a requirement to use low emission spreading equipment by 2025.

Launching its clean air strategy, the Government said it would work with the industry by supporting investment in infrastructure and equipment. 

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