UK ag policy to have ‘maximum level of devolution’
Devolved regions of the UK will have more flexibility in the design and rollout of post-Brexit domestic agricultural policies than they did with the European Union’s CAP.
Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, Defra Secretary Michael Gove said: “Outside the EU, the devolved administrations will have more power than ever before to shape agricultural policies that suit their jurisdictions.”
However, Gove said that polices across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have to be within a UK framework for areas such as animal and plant health.
“We don’t want any decision taken by any constituent part of the UK that will harm our own UK internal market,” he said.
The Defra Secretary gave no indication of the timeline for developing the UK-wide framework but said a consultation paper on the future of agricultural policy in England would be published “very shortly”.
Politics in the way
In a questions-and-answers session, Gove said that Defra meets monthly with agriculture and environment ministers from Scotland and Wales, and civil servants from NI.
He acknowledged that the Scottish Nationalist Party government in Edinburgh will want to separate Scottish and English policy as much as possible. “Sometimes politics can get in the way,” Gove said.
“The reality is that overwhelming number of our conversations are constructive and cordial,” he added.