David Han­d­ley Young are ready to trans­form farm­ing

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Countryside -

IF any­one asks me what I wish for in 2019 I will tell them: a speedy res­o­lu­tion of the Brexit is­sue that has over­shad­owed pol­i­tics and swal­lowed up mas­sive amounts of re­sources that the coun­try re­ally can­not af­ford.

I don’t have a lot of time for politi­cians gen­er­ally, but I can­not re­call ever wit­ness­ing quite such a dis­play of back-stab­bing, dou­ble-dealing, treach­ery and dis­hon­esty as we have wit­nessed in re­cent months.

And mean­while the real is­sues, such as the fu­ture shape of UK farm­ing, ap­pear to have be­come of sec­ondary im­por­tance – not that the ex­treme en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists who want to im­pose their wholly un­work- able vi­sion of a ‘greener’ agri­cul­ture pol­icy on the coun­try have missed a sin­gle op­por­tu­nity in the mean­time to at­tempt to bam­boo­zle both politi­cians and the pub­lic.

Whether or not we quit Europe it is younger farm­ers who are go­ing to be most af­fected. Not the old guard who have spent their en­tire ca­reers be­ing sub­sidised and can see no al­ter­na­tive way of op­er­at­ing. Change is go­ing to be forced on their world ei­ther way: the CAP in its present form is fi­nan­cially un­sus­tain­able, even with­out the loss of the UK’s con­tri­bu­tions, and the money well is dry­ing up.

Here, the sta­tus quo may pre­vail for a time, but I sus­pect the switch to re­ward­ing farm­ers through en­vi­ron­men­tal grants will come sooner rather than later – and I’m afraid any­one who be­lieves it will be a sim­ple mat­ter to claim them now the task of man­ag­ing them has been handed to the RPA is merely de­lud­ing him­self.

One of our big­gest chal­lenges will be ex­plain­ing to the tax­payer that pub­lic funds are needed to sus­tain the pre­car­i­ous farm­ing model that the EU has cre­ated – and to make them re­alise that only be­cause farm sup­port has been de­ducted rel­a­tively pain­lessly through their taxes over the last 40 years are they able to en­joy to­day’s his­tor­i­cally low food prices.

Yet all the young farm­ers I have spo­ken to are ready to em­brace a new regime. They have seen their par­ents strug­gling with non­sen­si­cal bu­reau­cracy drafted by peo­ple with no prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence of farm­ing. They have seen their par­ents’ stress lev­els soar try­ing to op­er­ate within regulations ap­par­ently de­signed to sti­fle, rather than en­cour­age, in­no­va­tion, di­ver­sity and lat­eral think­ing.

Younger farm­ers want an end to all this. They are ready to un­leash ideas, cre­ativ­ity and en­ergy to trans­form Bri­tish agri­cul­ture and bring a new dy­namism to the sec­tor.

They rep­re­sent an enor­mous pool of tal­ent and en­thu­si­asm ready to cre­ate a new and more pros­per­ous farm­ing model – though one which con­tin­ues to de­liver the safest and high­est-qual­ity food to the Bri­tish con­sumer.

And that, at least, gives me hope for the fu­ture.

I can­not re­call ever

wit­ness­ing such back-stab­bing, dou­bledeal­ing, treach­ery and


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