Farming and the Countryside

"Farmers like myself have everything to gain by leaving the EU. UKIP has sound policies that will put British farmers first, promote high standards in animal husbandry and help secure a vibrant, thriving agriculture sector for Britain."
STUART AGNEW MEP Agriculture Spokesman

Outside the EU, free of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and excessive regulations, we will be able to introduce fairer, simpler ways to support farmers. For every £1 British agriculture receives from the CAP, the British taxpayer has already contributed £2, so we can easily continue to subsidise farmers after leaving the EU. We can also re- distribute payments away from wealthy landowners and large, often intensively farmed holdings, in favour of smaller food producers and family farms.

A NEW UK SINGLE FARM PAYMENT

UKIP will introduce a modified UK Single Farm Payment (SFP) scheme of £80 per acre for lowland farms, with comparable arrangements for lower grades of land, capped at £120,000. Golf courses, airfields, racetracks and other non-productive areas will be excluded, as will land used

for solar panels or land within 25 metres of a wind turbine. Land must conform to 2013 Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) requirements, where points are accrued according to criteria such as hedgerow maintenance, wild bird cover, wild flower mixes, etc., to qualify for subsidies.

  •  Organic farms will be paid a 25 per cent premium on the SFP

  •  UKIP will add rare breed maintenance to the ELS points system

  •  There will be no set-aside, cropping or rotation restrictions

  •  SFP will be paid to who ever takes financial responsibility for the farming enterprise on a field-by- field basis (i.e. the farmer, not the landowner)

  •  Hill farmers will receive additional headage payments on livestock numbers within World Trade Organisation rules.

DAIRY AND SHEEP FARMERS

UKIP will support dairy farmers by requiring the Competition Commission to promote fair practice in the food chain, in addition to considering price and competition issues. This will allow producers to create larger co- operatives and alliances to counter the power of purchasing cartels. We will also refine the brief of the Grocery Adjudicator, who arbitrates on trade relationships between the large retailers and their suppliers, if necessary.

We will scrap the Electronic Individual Identification Document for sheep, and introduce a pragmatic solution to distinguish between lamb and mutton at the abattoir, reducing costs for farmers by changing the definition of an ‘aged’ sheep.

ANIMAL HEALTH AND WELFARE

We can only regain control of animal health and welfare by leaving the EU. UKIP takes both issues seriously and we will:

  • Triple the maximum jail sentences for animal cruelty and torture
  • Impose lifetime bans on owning and/or looking after animals on any individual or company convicted of animal cruelty or torture
  • Keep the ban on animal testing for cosmetics
  • Challenge companies using animals for testing drugs or other medical treatments on the necessity for this form of testing, as opposed to the use of alternative technology
  • Tightly regulate animal testing
  • Ban the export of live animals for slaughter
  • Insist on formal non-stun training and certification for all religious slaughtermen to ensure the highest standards are adhered to
  • Install CCTV in every abattoir, monitored by the Meat Hygiene Service, and deal severely with any contraventions.
  • Remove unnecessary EU restrictions that make small, local abattoirs unviable

We will also prepare for the possibility of disease outbreaks (including those) caused by imports. We cannot expect our farmers to bear the full brunt of any such outbreaks, but we will encourage them to introduce testing programmes and invest in insurance schemes to deal with potential outbreaks, as the poultry sector has done with the salmonella testing programme and associated insurance scheme.

FOOD LABELLING

Food labelling will come back under the control of the Westminster Parliament when we leave the EU. Then we can insist animal products are labelled to show the country of origin, method of production and transport and whether the animal was stunned before slaughter, together with any information concerning hormones and GM products. We believe strongly that customers have the right to see this information.

CARING FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT

UKIP will match-fund grants made by local authorities towards rural capital projects, such as creating a lake, wetland, repairing traditional stone walls, etc. which enhance the local environment, encourage rural education, or help recovery from environmental disasters.

While we will abolish excessive and unnecessary regulations and directives, keeping those necessary to protect our environment, or replacing them with more appropriate controls, administered at national or local government level, will be a priority for us. We will take as our guide in these and all other farming matters relevant scientific and/or professional veterinary advice.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS

UKIP supports research into GM foods, including research on the benefits and risks involved to the public. We will allow a free vote in Parliament on commercial cultivation.