A report from the environmental think-tank has argued that environment secretary Michael Gove’s proposals to replace EU agriculture subsidies with a scheme that pays for public goods is “absolutely right”.
Last month, Gove launched the post-Brexit farming consultation, proposing a system of “public money for public goods” that would pay farmers based on their work to enhance the environment and sustainable food production.
However, the Green Alliance has argued the government needs to be clearer on how regulation and incentives would support all farmers to improve sustainability as a “step change” was needed.
Angela Francis, chief economist at Green Alliance, said: “To be a success the new agriculture scheme needs to be clear it will reward all these public goods, put high environmental standards at the heart of British farming and not undercut them with cheap imports.”
The National Farmers Union (NFU) said it had started a consultation of the plans with its members.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “The creation of a new domestic agricultural policy is the most significant step-change for the food and farming industry in decades.
“We know for certain that a new policy needs to be fair to all active farm businesses – irrespective of size or system – providing enough time and certainty to plan, adapt and invest.
“It is vital that government looks at farming as the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – and harnesses the whole food supply chain in its policy-making. If farmers and growers can thrive, they can continue to produce safe, traceable and affordable food for the public.”
Meanwhile, Welsh minister Lesley Griffiths, cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs, has called for a redesign of the current farming system in the wake of Brexit.
She said: “Brexit brings significant and swift changes. The combination of leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and new trading arrangements mean simply maintaining the status quo is untenable.”
She called for devolution, as she claimed the composition of the farming sector in Wales was very different to the rest of the UK, particularly to England.
“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to redesign our policies in a manner consistent with Wales’ unique integrated approach, delivering for our economy, society and natural environment,” she said.
The Farmers Union of Wales warned that plans needed to be developed cautiously if devastation for rural communities is to be avoided.
President Glyn Roberts said: “We welcome the cabinet secretary’s acknowledgement that ‘farming is a vital part of the rural economy’.
“Plans need to be developed very carefully, based on detailed analysis of the possible consequences of different policies for individual businesses, different regions of Wales, supply chains and industries as a whole.”