Eustice interview - Government considering post-Brexit animal health and welfare grants
7th Mar 2017 / By Alistair Driver
George Eustice has confirmed the Government is considering providing grants to invest in farm infrastructure to help deliver better animal health and welfare under a new domestic farm policy.
In an interview with Pig World, the Farming Minister shed more light on his plans to incentivise better welfare after the UK leaves the EU.
He said: “The RSPCA has suggested you could have several tiers, for pigs, for example, going from ‘free range’ at the top, down to barns with straw and ‘outdoor bred’, which means they have been outdoors for the first few weeks of their life.
He suggested two possible types of payment. “First, should we be looking at grant support to help farmers, and pig farmers are a good case in point, invest in new buildings that would enable and facilitate higher animal welfare?
“These could be one-off grants that would help them renew their estate and replace old buildings and old systems, and make it more possible to go to systems seen as higher welfare with better consumer acceptability.”
The Government is also looking at the sort ongoing ‘top-up payments’ organic farmers currently receive.
“For organics, there is a premium in the market for those that are Soil Association-accredited, but there is also a top-up to the Basic Payment to recognise some of the costs of being an organic producer,” Mr Eustice said.
He believes this new approach to farm husbandry could also help farmers reduce their reliance on antibiotics.
“Fundamentally, I think there is a great opportunity to create an international brand based on the best animal health and welfare standards in the world.”
US trade deal
Mr Eustice refuted suggestions future trade deals with the likes of the US could result in the UK being swamped with cheaper lower standard imports.
“Ultimately, in these types of negotiation it doesn’t really matter what the US asks for. What matters is what the UK is willing to grant by way of a trade agreement,” he said.
The Cornwall MP also addressed growing doubts about the ability of the UK to secure free access to the EU single market after we leave the union.
An FTA built on similar arrangements would therefore be ‘easier to put together than some people suspect’, he said.
To read the full Pig World interview, click here