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Volume 635: debated on Thursday 1 February 2018

7. What 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. (903670)

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 farm support until the end of the Parliament. We of course continue to work closely with a range of stakeholders across the farming industry and beyond, as well as with the devolved Administrations.

EU rules on farming have been “one size fits all”. Does my hon. Friend agree that after Brexit we will be able to create farming policy, regulations and frameworks that work better for all parts of the United Kingdom?

Yes. Once we have left the EU, we will be able to redesign our agriculture policy so that farmers are competitive, productive and profitable, and our environment is protected for future generations. My right hon. Friend the Environment Secretary eloquently sets out the flaws in the common agricultural policy and how the UK Government can do so much better outside the EU.

Will the Minister further outline how he intends to secure subsidies for the average UK farm of 160 acres—such farms are classified as small farms—and how does he believe that small farmers will be able to survive post Brexit?

We believe in the importance of small farms and their contribution to the rural community, and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will bring forward his policy in due course.

The Minister referred to us leaving the common agricultural policy. Can he clarify when farmers will no longer be subject to it, and when our fishing industry will no longer be subject to the common fisheries policy? Will it be when we leave the EU next March, or is it more likely to be at the end of a transition period?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. I know from meeting fishermen and women that in some cases they are very impatient indeed to leave the common fisheries policy—rightly so. It is a matter for negotiations, and we hope and expect to achieve clarity very soon.

Securing favourable trading conditions will be just as important for the future of our farmers, including those who reflect distinct characteristics of the industry across the UK. Will the Minister confirm what role the devolved Administrations will play in formulating our position?

They will play an important role, and we will continue to engage with the hon. Gentleman. I am very conscious of agricultural tariffs—the common external tariff and tariffs around the world. It is in all our interests to ensure tariff-free access to and from European markets as we reach our deep and special partnership.