An event at Durham’s Gala Theatre is set to discuss the enormous impact that Brexit will have on farmers and the countryside.

The public debate, which will take place on Friday 12th May at 11.00 am, is organised by the National Farmers’ Union and the European Parliament. 

At present, an incredible 55% of the UK’s farming income is supplied by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy funds. 

Farmers also have concerns regarding Brexit’s effect on import and export tariffs and the availability of agricultural workers. In some English counties, EU workers make up 20% of farm labourers.

Another question is what laws the UK government would make to cover the substantial body of EU directives currently governing agriculture. Such laws would have to tackle a range of issues including the environment, animal health and welfare, plant protection and genetically modified crops.

There is no guarantee that subsidies paid by a UK government would be as high as those paid by the EU. In addition, the fact that the UK is not a big player in terms of agricultural trade might make it hard for the UK to argue for a favourable trade deal for its farmers.

Paul Brannon, a Labour MEP who is a member of the EU’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, said, “Our rural communities will face an unprecedented set of challenges as the UK leaves the EU.” 

“Politicians are listening and want to develop policies which not only protect the supply of high quality food, but ensure that farmers thrive in their role as guardians of our countryside.”

The Gala Theatre event will take the form of a panel discussion, which will be moderated by the BBC journalist Sarah Dickens.

As well as Paul Brannon MEP, the panel will feature former Conservative MEP Lord Martin Callanan. The National Farmers’ Union’s North East regional director, Adam Bedford, and David Harvey, a professor of agricultural economics at Newcastle University, will also be on the panel.

The event will be free of charge, but those who wish to attend should register first. More information can be found here.     

(Featured image photo courtesy of Kathryn Yengel, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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