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Brexit and a new decade: 3 policy areas to follow in 2020 for UK Agriculture

In the aftermath of the general election, the Communications and Government Affairs team at Bayer reflect on 2019 as we take the first step into what is going to be a critical decade not just for Britain but for global agriculture.

The pressure is on to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the next ten years, which highlight the wide ranging yet deeply complex and integrated issues of our time such as poverty, population growth, gender inequality, and unsustainable use of land, water and energy.

As we look into the year ahead, here are three areas we all need to be prepared to ask questions, have discussions, and share our thoughts on when it comes to agricultural policy.

1. The Withdrawal Agreement

We will be plugged in to the ongoing discussions across the public and private sectors of agri-food as together we try to make sense of the implications of the transition period on farming and food production. Starting with the Oxford Farming Conference in January, we look forward to hearing different perspectives online and in person throughout the year.

2. Trade negotiations

Agriculture is a key area implicated by trade negotiations. As we enter 2020, we will finally start to learn what trade relationships the government wants and have clarification on the positioning for negotiations with the EU and further afield on agriculture.

3. Regulatory divergence and the post-Brexit ‘CAP’

How much will the UK diverge from the EU? And what will this mean for farming in the future? Will the government continue with a public money for public goods approach to a post-Brexit ‘CAP’?

The future of the UK’s regulatory framework for arable farming and more specifically crop protection, plant breeding and use of digital tools and robots is something that we at Bayer have always proactively discussed. Earlier this year, Julian Little shared our vision for a vibrant agricultural system as we navigate the withdrawal agreement, negotiate trade, and set out a new regulatory framework. A lot of work has already been done to shape the policy framework in the industry with pilot schemes under way for ELMS and the Agricultural Bill awaiting its second reading following a brief moment of turbulence in October due to the announcement of the general election.

You might be wondering what you can do in response to all of this?

The best thing we can do is be ready and available to be active participants of policy development, so that this doesn’t become a monologue or a one way conversation. Here are a few ways to get you started:

  • Share why you do what you do

It’s clear that as an industry we are already doing a lot to communicate who we are and why we do what we do. Let’s not forget that innovation is in the very essence of the agricultural industry permeating all aspects of our lives including our enthusiasm to bridge the gap of the rural urban divide, going out of our way to engage the public on our love for farming.

  • Make sure you’re well represented

Talk to your local constituency MP, feed into industry groups that can represent you and support initiatives that are building common ground in issues that are often discussed by the general public such as food waste and the environment. It might not feel like it, but your experiences of policy really does matter. The more we can tell these stories to the right people, the better.

We must embrace the coming changes, shape them to the best of our ability and make sure the government understands the impact of its proposals on our vital industry, the environment and our rural communities. Not only that, we must be mindful of the choices and frameworks made in this country as we continue to join the rest of the world in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.


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