Thank you for contacting me about the impact on British farming of the UK's decision to leave the European Union.
Food and farming is a bedrock of our economy and environment, generating £110 billion a year and helping shape some of our finest habitats and landscapes. I am pleased that the Government has pledged to continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of the parliament, expected in 2022. Structural fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed before our departure will be honoured for their lifetime.
Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) means we can do much more for our environment. In England the Government plans to move to a system of paying farmers public money for public goods: principally environmental enhancement. Bureaucracy will be minimised and application processes made easier; the system will also provide flexibility, putting more management decisions in the hands of farmers. There will be a smooth transition to this new system over a number of years to give farmers time to adapt.
The Environment Secretary intends to publish a Command Paper this spring and consult widely with farmers and others. Ministers will work closely with the devolved administrations on an approach that works for the whole of the UK. In particular they are keenly aware of the importance of seasonal labour, so will work with the industry to ensure it has the right people with the right skills.
We must take the opportunity of being outside the CAP to use public money to reward environmentally-responsible land use, while maintaining and enhancing high standards of animal welfare. I am convinced that we will harness this opportunity and ensure that our best days as a food and farming nation lie ahead of us.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.