FARMING MATTERS: This deal is not what we wanted

I don't usually get political in this column, not least because I write it some way ahead of publication and, as they say, a week is a long time in politics and whatever I write could be seriously out of date before it is read.

Saturday, 8th December 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 5:08 pm
Picture copyright Heather Jan Brunt

I was also trained as a news journalist and we are taught to remove ourselves and remain impartial in all we report. This however is a personal opinion column, and therefore I am allowed the luxury of speaking my mind should I chose to do so.

And I do choose to do so this week as Theresa May moves towards presenting her withdrawal agreement on our relationship with the EU to Parliament. Everything I have read about it suggests it is a total betrayal of what we who voted leave expected.

Prior to the Brexit referendum I was frustrated by the platform given to politicians and spokespersons for the farming community who claimed farmers wanted to remain in the EU. There seemed to be very little voice, if any, given to the opposing view. Yet not one single farmer I spoke to at the time wanted to remain, and I certainly didn’t. The red tape and endless rules and regulations that have strangled farmers for years is deeply frustrating. Trying to unify farming rules across almost 30 unique countries, all with different climates and topography is bound to cause exasperation.

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The argument often used for remain, is that our arable farmers need workers from Europe to help harvest their crops, but seasonal workers always came to help with harvest, even before the creation of this federal political monolith.

A national poll at the time of Brexit found that 58 per cent of farmers wanted to leave, but most non farming folk that I spoke to were surprised when I told them that, because they assumed - from what they read and heard - that ‘farmers in general’ wanted to remain.

Having recently spoken privately to several farmers, I suspect there would be a similar result in favour of leave – possibly even higher – if a new poll were to be taken now.

There are those who want us to believe this withdrawal agreement needs to successfully pass through Parliament otherwise all manner of calamities will befall us. I believe the opposite is true and in fact we need a prime minister who will deliver properly on the referendum result.