The Future of the UK Countryside, Post Brexit: A Structured Dialogue with Professor Ian Bateman

Also, see Professor Ian Bateman’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, October 2017.

1)      In your opinion what are the biggest risks and opportunities for farming and the environment upon leaving the EU?

Risks – bankruptcy for small farms

Opportunities – better distribution of subsidies from large to small farms.

2)      What do you see as the basis for future public payments for farmers and land managers? What, in your opinion, should public funding aim to deliver?

Public goods: Environment and rural development

Not: Agricultural production

3)      How should public support for farming be offered? E.g. Direct payments, Agri-environment payment, or other forms of financial (grants or loans)/non-financial support (advice, knowledge-exchange).

Mixture of:

  • A safety net of income support
  • Subsidies targeted according to the public goods benefits provided

4)      Do you see any potential for private financing to facilitate/replace public payments?

Yes – particularly via water companies

5)      What direction do you believe future trade policies need to take, and how might this affect future agri-environment policy?

You cannot look at trade in agricultural goods separately from trade in other good – the world won’t let us so don’t pretend we can. Given that then it’s pure political versus economic trade-off. If you insist on being able to refuse entry to EU citizens then you better get used to paying more for goods and enduring higher inflation.

6)      What impacts might the changes you envisage have on farmers and land managers?

Which changes? If you implement what I suggest then poorer farmers will be protected and all farmers will have a choice: push your income above the safety net via the production of public goods or try and increase income by increasing production of goods that frankly can be produced more cheaply elsewhere.

6a) What might the wider impacts be on the countryside/rural communities?

Depends on the answer to 6)

6b) How might you propose to mitigate the impacts? Do you think any additional policy measures will be necessary and what might these be?

Depends on the answer to 6)

7)      What impacts might the changes you envisage have on the environment (farmland biodiversity; wider biodiversity; soil health; water quality etc.)

If you take the approach I propose then all of the effects will be positive at a national level but not necessarily at certain local levels as some places will profit from increased intensification.

8)      How might your proposals secure the government’s commitment to “leave the environment in a better state than we found it”?

They would directly deliver to that agenda

9)      What impacts might the changes you envisage have on visitor/tourists’ perceptions of the countryside?

Over most of the countryside they would be very positive. In a minority of areas the effects won’t differ that greatly from the highly degraded state they are already in.

Also, see Ian Bateman’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference, 1 October 2017


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