SMALLHOLDERS GIVE THEIR VIEWS
Several smallholders and small-scale farmers in the South West gave their views about Brexit for a survey by The Guardian newspaper. Devon farmer Jilly Greed said she believes her farm has improved during the EU years. “Farming is not a secure business, but the EU has given us some security and helped us innovate,” she said. She is worried that farming may be sacrificed when post-Brexit trade deals are done. Mick Dumper, a Mid Devon smallholder, sees good and bad in Brexit. He says the amount of regulation is disproportionate for small producers. “I would hope that the burden of regulation on small farmers and producers would be lifted a bit.” But he fears that without some subsidy the capital costs of running a farm may be too great and they may be lost to “urban money”. Targeting subsidies on conservation schemes have helped revive rural skills, he says. While the EU boosted globalisation and industrial-scale farming, it has also increased environmental protection, subsidies for farmers, diversification of food and tourism. Mid Devon beekeeper Ray King said the EU has been good for bees, and a pan-European approach to disease has been helped. He also says the EU’s environmental encouragement has led to richer hedgerows and field margins.