Our farming sector is vital
In the new year we will perhaps start to get some more specific idea of how the government intends to approach the complex negotiations to fashion a new relationship between the UK, the European Union and the wider world.
The survival and growth of our farming industry will be a major issue. I have backed the National Farmers’ Union campaign to make sure of that.
The food and farming sector is worth £108bn to our economy. It is bigger than the aeronautical and automotive manufacturing sectors combined and accounts for nearly four million jobs.
I am pleased that Labour has promised to continue small farm subsidies after Brexit, and urge the government to do the same.
And we need to grow the farming sector and increase our food self-sufficiency. This was 75 per cent in 1991, but has dropped substantially to just 61 per cent.
We’re going to need a more dynamic, profitable and productive farming sector to feed our increasing population, which may reach nearly 80 million people by 2050. And also to export more agricultural products to the world.
Brexit was not my choice, but we now have no choice but to minimise dangers and make the most of the opportunity to learn from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, and devise a tailor-made domestic farming policy, based on a cross-party consensus to support rural revival.
We need to dig for food and jobs.