03:00PM, Sunday 11 March 2018
A Royal Borough councillor and farmer has said he is more concerned about climate change and cyber security then he is about the state of the industry after Brexit.
Cllr Colin Rayner (Con, Horton and Wraysbury) was speaking after the Government launched its consultation for what it calls an ‘agricultural transition’.
The Government’s proposals will see money redirected from direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which are based on the amount of land farmed, to a new system of paying farmers to enhance the environment and invest in sustainable food production.
However, Cllr Rayner argued that he had always farmed in a way that was sympathetic to the environment and that even if the country was staying in the EU the subsidy would have disappeared or changed anyway.
However the Government will continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this Parliament in 2022.
Colin’s farm at Stubbings in Burchetts Green Lane currently produces 600 acres of maize, 500 acres of wheat and 1,000 acres of winter barley.
“Since the 1950s it was the policy of all governments to subsidise farms to grow cheap food, that was just taken over by the EU when we joined the CAP in the 1970s,” he said.
“Over the last few years that subsidy has been being reduced so I’m more concerned with banking fraud and climate change.
“I've had five attacks quite recently where people have stolen my identity.
“Part of being a farmer is about change.
“But I think there needs to be more food grown and sold locally in every town so it doesn’t have to travel so far,” he added.
Former MEP for West Hampshire Richard Simmonds (Con), who lives in Cookham, left the European Parliament in 1995 but still works as a consultant to the European Commission.
He said one of the last things he worked on was
the Cork Declaration, which was an attempt to change the CAP to address the
production of food and the long time care of the environment.
He added: “Some of the proposals I have seen are laudable, but if we’re going to continue to export to the continent then we will have to be producing to the standards and regulations currently mutually agreed by all 20 countries including the UK.
“If we’re no longer party to that I believe it will be to our disadvantage.
“There’s an awful lot wrong with it [CAP] but it happens to be the best thing 28 countries can agree to at the moment.”
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