Lancaster farmers need Brexit support

The NFU said farmers need full support from the government
The NFU said farmers need full support from the government

Farming union the NFU said farmers in the Lancaster district must be given “full support” after an environmental charity warned of a £19.5m loss of funding from the EU.

Analysis by Friends of The Earth suggests the funding to help protect nature and wildlife could be lost after the general election unless the next government fails to act.

The charity said it has crunched the numbers for Lancaster and Fleetwood to find out how much money is going to farms in the constituency under Environmental Stewardship funding agreements.

The money goes towards activities like restoring hedgerows, planting trees, reducing flooding and creating wildlife habitats.

The cash is paid to farmers as part of the European-wide Common Agricultural Policy but after Brexit the money will come to an end unless the next government agrees on a replacement scheme.

NFU’s Lancashire County Adviser Adam Briggs said: “Farmers in Lancaster and Fleetwood play a vital role in caring for our countryside, driving the local economy and, of course, feeding the British public.

“Food and farming delivers over £108bn to the national economy and provides 3.9m jobs.

“This is on top of all farmers do to protect and enhance the natural environment and put safe, trusted, affordable and quality food on shoppers’ plates.

“We must give the sector our full support – and this begins with making food and farming a clear strategic priority for the new Government.

“The natural environment is vital to farmers as they rely on it as a resource to maintain a living.”

Friends of the Earth food and farming campaigner Clare Oxborrow said:

“This funding is vital for nature and for local farmers. It helps to reduce flooding, create wildlife habitats, plant trees and restore hedgerows - but all of this could be lost after the general election.

“We’re asking all parliamentary candidates to commit to keeping and increasing this critical funding post-Brexit.

Without a new system to support farmers to manage their land sustainably, precious wildlife and habitats already under threat will suffer further.”

Agriculture has been one of the flagship areas of European collaboration since the early days of the EU.