A valid concern in the runup to the 2016 EU referendum was that free-marketeers within the Tory government would cast farmers aside post-Brexit, leaving them to compete in a global market without farm payments.

In fact, there were some local farmers who supported Brexit for that reason, and wanted the freedom to farm without the rules and regulations imposed by the EU.

That bonfire of regulations was never going to happen, and in any event, it is impossible to compete long-term in a global market when most other countries actually support the incomes of their producers.

But since 2016, a different dynamic is now in play, with many countries following the UK lead, and signing up to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. So while agriculture will still be expected to produce food, it will also have to deliver greater biodiversity, and perhaps most importantly, sequester carbon whether in trees and hedges, peatland or grassland.

To achieve all those things, there now seems to be a clear recognition, even within the UK government, that farmers will need financial support. Farm funding might only be guaranteed for the lifetime of the current UK Parliament (2024), but there is no appetite among politicians to cut funding beyond that date.

There is also a need for a new mindset within the farming community

However, to access that money, farmers will have to do things differently, get involved in carbon benchmarking and be open minded to changes within the farm gate that will improve the environment.

There is also a need for a new mindset within the farming community, and if your neighbour decides to plant trees, grow energy crops or re-wet a bog, they should be seen as innovators and early adopters, not failed farmers.

Embracing these new challenges will not only allow us to access a pot of money, it will also secure our market and be the basis of our defence against cheap imports. We need to ensure that trade deals are rendered meaningless because our home-produced food has a lower carbon footprint.

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