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House of Commons Hansard
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Support for Farmers
02 November 2017
Volume 630
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3. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on support for farmers after the UK leaves the EU. [901555]

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7. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on support for farmers after the UK leaves the EU. [901559]

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22. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on support for farmers after the UK leaves the EU. [901576]

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We have been working closely with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on support for farmers. The Government will provide the same cash total in funds for famer support until the end of the Parliament. As my hon. Friend knows, we continue to work with a range of stakeholders to provide stability for farmers.

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I thank the Minister for that response—it is important, particularly for my constituents, that he is having those discussions with DEFRA. May I seek his assurance that farmers will be provided with confidence, so that they can plan their financial arrangements for the years to come, and for their future crop rotations and animal stocks?

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In making our pledge to maintain the same cash funds to the end of the Parliament, which we expect to be in 2022, we are giving a greater level of security and certainty for farmers and landowners than anywhere else in the EU where funding is guaranteed only until 2020.

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It is clear to me that Banbury cake should be enjoyed the world over. Will my hon. Friend give me an idea of the analysis of the opportunities for global trade in the food and farming industry post-Brexit?

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I agree with my hon. Friend that Banbury cake should be enjoyed the world over. We continue to work with the Department for International Trade to identify opportunities for such sales.

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I strongly support the call from my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries and Galloway (Mr Jack) for an independent review of the convergence uplift for Scottish farmers. When might the Government be able to respond to this request? Can the Minister reassure farmers in my constituency that any future support system that is developed post-Brexit will reflect the challenging conditions faced by some farmers in Scotland?

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My hon. Friend represents the interests of Scotland with characteristic attention to detail and force. We have received the letter from my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries and Galloway, and I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is looking into the issues raised and will respond in due course.

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May I encourage the Minister to wake up early in the morning and listen to my favourite programme, “Farming Today”? Did he today hear farmers and experts saying that farmers are going to go bankrupt? Farmers, like those in other sectors, want to know what the prognosis is for the farming sector. Wake up and listen to the BBC’s “Farming Today” and do something decent for the people of this country!

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The hon. Gentleman makes his point with his characteristic style. If I recall correctly, my first interview in the referendum campaign was for “Farming Today”, and I have always taken it very seriously.

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Was it recorded?

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No, I don’t think it was. I would have to go back and check for the hon. Gentleman. I do not always rise in time to listen to “Farming Today”, but we have given our guarantees, and I reiterate that we expect them to last until 2022—a better guarantee than anywhere else in the EU.

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Sheep farming is integral to the landscape and economy of Cumbria and much of the rest of the country. Some 40% of lamb products are exported, 90% of which go to the European Union. World Trade Organisation rules state that the tariff for sheep products is 52%, so what can the Minister say to encourage and give confidence to our sheep farmers?

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The hon. Gentleman knows that we wish to have a deep and special partnership with the European Union, including a free trade agreement of unprecedented scale. I very much hope and expect that we will be able to conclude tariff-free trade.

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The Government are letting farmers down. They cannot even agree on what type of chicken we should allow to be imported after we leave the European Union: the International Trade Secretary says he is relaxed about lowering animal welfare and food standards, and the Environment Secretary has said the opposite. What is the Government’s position on the importation of chlorinated chicken?

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In due course, when we have left the European Union and we are fully free to operate our own independent trade policy, I look forward to the debates in this House on all these matters.