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Gove's broken promise could be end of British family farm

July 30, 2017 9:09 PM
Originally published by Tim Farron

Tim Farron farmingSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has accused Michael Gove of "breaking a campaign promise" after he set out plans to cut subsidies for farmers unless they meet certain criteria.

While Gove argued in his speech that the "The Common Agricultural Policy… all too often puts resources in the hands of the already wealthy", Tim points out that without subsidies many hill farmers would be driven out of business.

Gove called for changes to the system which could see some payments removed, despite signing a pledge to farmers during the referendum campaign which stated that "their funding is safe" and that they and other recipients of EU funding would continue to receive payments after a Leave vote.

Michael Gove's speech also failed once to mention the single market and potential tariffs, a crucial issue for British farmers who export around £11bn of agricultural goods to the EU each year. Almost 40% of UK lamb goes to the EU.

Tim said: "Of course there are changes that could be made to the system, but Gove must not be allowed to peddle the lie that all farmers are all wealthy landowners.

"Without direct support, the average hill farm income would be minus £10k. Subsidies are a lifeline for these farmers, and they face ruin if Gove removes their support and leaves them in the red.

"Michael Gove promised to maintain payments for farmers, now he's breaking that promise and the chickens are coming home to roost.

"This speech does nothing to address the huge uncertainty farmers face over the long-term viability of their businesses. Gove has glossed over the crucial issue of whether farmers will be hit with tariffs when selling to customers in Europe.

"If high tariffs and lower subsidies put small farmers out of business, it will be the end of the family farm as we know it.

"The bottom line is that the best way to protect British farmers is to defend our membership of the single market."