Ed's Brexit round-up
20th Apr 2018 / By Ed Barker
On the Brexit front, we are in the eye of the storm.
We have had an extremely busy first few months of the year, and we know there will be a lot happening in May and June. But for now, a period of hush from Government. However, I can assure you that this is most certainly not a period of quiet for the NPA, as any of you who have attended (or will attend) regional meetings can see.
What is giving the whole NPA team sleepless nights is Defra’s ‘Command Paper’. I am sure that many of you are familiar with its content, but just in case you are not, it is essentially a cross between a consultation and an aspirational white paper that looks to form the basis of future agricultural policy in the UK post-Brexit.
It covers pretty much everything – health, welfare, CAP payments, environment schemes, trade, inspections and skills, though we don’t really have too much detail on what is being thought out. This is no bad thing – we can give Defra our ideas instead as to how we can meet specific challenges set out by Ministers, such as reducing antibiotic use, the skills gap and emissions whilst improving soils, export markets and public investment.
You may have seen that we have published a ‘call’ for evidence, asking for your help so we can better answer the questions using real world examples. Even if it is answering one question, some or all, it all helps us massively in our response.
Why is it so important? Well we understand, that this will be one of, if not the most, responded to consultation in Government history – with the vast majority of responses coming from the public or, more likely, people who have been told to by green NGOs. We have spent a lot of meetings with Defra and other industry representatives discussing these, and unless we strongly make our voice heard we could have lost the ideas battle before Brexit has even begun.
Welfare of animals in transport
What else is keeping us busy? Well Government is currently consulting on future changes to the welfare of animals during transport – which will look at possibly banning live exports for slaughter, and at changes for transporting live animals for slaughter within the UK. In addition, we have responded to a consultation from the House of Lords environment committee on the subject of biosecurity post-Brexit, and the Commons’ same committee on the subject of the Command Paper.
Lastly, we are also putting together a new document, Pig Prospects, that will act as our vision for the future of pig production in the UK, and the opportunities that can be sought from Brexit. We hope to launch this at the Pig and Poultry Fair, and will use this to help form the basis of our messages to MPs and Ministers and to the media.
What we are going to ask members to do is to send it to their MP on our behalf. Whilst MPs and others are, of course, happy to read what we send them, it is all the more meaningful if it is sent from their constituent and/or a business in their constituency as it clearly is more relevant to them.
We really want more MPs to connect with NPA members at this unique time in British agriculture, and this will be a great way to do this – ideally if we can get more out visiting members on farm, all the better. Most MPs like to look at things from a national perspective, but we forget they are there primarily to represent their constituency and its businesses.
When I worked in parliament, we used to get so many campaign emails from green NGOs that were the same template text without any meaning behind them. Whenever something came in from a constituent business, it would go to top of the pile. If you are able to help us in sending Pig Prospects to your MP, please do email me and we can help you with the document itself and sending it to your elected member in Westminster.