Jonathan Smith was talking recently to a retired Cheshire farmer, who did not have much good to say about how Government policies and actions are impacting on farming.
Now, it is often said, much to their dismay, that farmers are perennial complainers, never happy with their lot. I happen to think that, at the moment, farmers in Cheshire, and across the country, have much reason to be fed-up, even angry.
The latest blow to British farming has come with the Government’s decision to yet again delay the implementation of its own vital checks on certain imports, including food and plant products, coming from the EU. Some checks are being made by the EU, but this is nowhere near as strong a defence as we had when we were fully members of the integrated European system of surveillance. So much for our newly-found “sovereignty”.
It is clear that the main risks for British farmers are: being made less competitive compared to importers of food; and being more vulnerable to food-related and animal-related diseases. All this comes on top of a huge shortage of labour due to immigration policy, the shameful slaughtering of thousands of pigs, new trade deals that expose British markets to cheaper and lower-quality imports, and great uncertainty about whether the Government’s future financial support for farming will come close to replacing what we had within the EU.
The relevant Minister said that introducing the planned, post-Brexit checks at our ports would have been an act of self-harm; proof, if ever it was needed, that Brexit has continued to damage the economy of this country, including farming.