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Does the Gove fit? Radical Shake up for UK Farming & Food after CAP & Brexit?

UK Ag minister Micheal Gove has claimed Brexit is a golden opportunity to create an independent, public goods focused national agri-food policy. This policy position has been praised by many, from environmentalists to the NFU. However, is he speaking with a forked tongue? And if not, then what might this potentially radical rupture signal for the EU and CAP? […]

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UK | The Yorkshire Dales – How Changing CAP legislation Impacts People and Place

The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of Yorkshire, Northern England. Agriculture has been an integral part of the area’s culture and economy for thousands of years. A hill farm agricultural system is upheld here, with sheep as the primary livestock, although many have diversified into mixed beef systems, and dairy operations in the lower valleys. How has CAP – and its changes over time – impacted on this place and its people? […]

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“Technical Rectification”, Trade & UK’s Brexit Double Act

Mainstream UK media have presented Brexit minister David Davis (left, without negotiating papers) as the public face of the country’s progress with Brexit talks. However, the press has studiously overlooked the back-room activities of the international trade minister Liam Fox, who has been rolling up his  sleeves and starting to size up Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) held by the European Union at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In an extraordinarily wide-reaching plan described as a “Technical Rectification”, Fox is planning to unilaterally carve out what he judges to be the UK’s share of TRQ  tonnages for third country imports such as New Zealand sheepmeat and register the results with the WTO. The story emerged thanks to Sky News journalist Faisal Islam, but only because the TV chain was filming Fox in action at the WTO headquarters in Geneva. In the past, technical rectifications have been more limited in scope, but this editing is on an industrial scale: Fox is not waiting for Davis to get round to discussing trade with the European Commission before trying […]

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UK | A People’s Food Policy

A silver lining in the Brexit cloud is that people can radically rethink how food, farming and the rural space operate in the UK. What will this mean for direct payments, for environmental regulations, for food security – and who will do the hard work of farming? Finally, is some of this blue sky thinking of interest to the rest of Europe? […]

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#AfterCAP | What Does The Public Pay For?

Tom Lancaster, Senior Agriculture Policy Officer at the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) assesses the uncertain terrain of the UK, farm subsidies and public goods post Brexit. In doing so, some interesting considerations emerge for the EU too. […]

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UK | Biodiversity Home Truths in State of Nature report

In David Attenborough’s foreword to The State of Nature 2016, he writes: “…Nature is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before.” The report singles out intensive agriculture and climate change as the two most serious threats to biodiversity in the UK. Agriculture still occupies 75% of the UK’s land area and the declining fortunes of mixed farming has led to consolidation and specialisation on a massive scale at landscape level. It is hardly surprising then, that the environmental impact of farming should be an issue of public concern. Look at this picture of a field with an over-wintered crop above: it is typical of thousands up and down the UK. Beneath the serried ranks of seedlings, criss-crossed with tracks that reflect the width of the spraying boom which passes periodically, countless farmland species struggle to adapt to what is often a hostile environment. The State of Nature editorial team identify earlier planting and regular spraying as important underlying factors in the way intensive farming impacts biodiversity. The study draws on long […]

Main stories

Tackling Food Waste : The Real Junk Food Project

UK mainstream media dubbed it a “food waste supermarket” when it opened in September, but The Real Junk Food Project’s first warehouse in  Pudsey, Yorkshire, is unlike anything that most people would describe as a supermarket. To be sure, it has shelves loaded with supermarket food products, alongside fresh produce from allotments and surplus products discarded by a food photography studio, but there is not a shelf-edge price label in sight. Instead, users are invited to “pay what they feel” – either in cash or in kind. Local supermarkets have agreed to donate stock which they can no longer sell legally, but is still fit for human consumption. In so doing, they save the cost of disposal and The Real Junk Food Project can “feed bellies, not landfill.” The depot is the latest in a series of projects and pop-up cafés that tackle food waste head-on. The Real Junk Food Project network has members across the UK, France and Germany: contact details can be found on its website at www.therealjunkfoodproject.org

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Prime Minister May Floats Hard Brexit Plan For UK

UK prime minister Theresa May addressed he political party, the ruling Conservative party, at their conference at the start of the month. She tried to reassure the warring factions of that party that her plans for Brexit were on track. It’s clear she favours a hard – that’s complete – break from the EU, and not a soft – that’s partial – separation. […]

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Blank Sheet for UK Agriculture?

The UK faces the prospect of rethinking its agriculture from scratch during the Brexit process. Less than a month after the vote, farming minister George Eustice told BBC Wales that he could not guarantee future agricultural support programmes would be as generous as current EU subsidies. […]