Leaving behind the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the UK and its devolved (decentralised) administrations of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are now able to design their own agricultural policies – including setting their respective values and objectives. Public rhetoric has pushed a Green Brexit drive away from area/land-based payments (as exists under the CAP) towards supporting farmers following a ‘public money for public [environmental] goods’ approach. However, the removal of direct (CAP) payments and a shift in financing policy will impact significantly on farming across the UK, with potentially significant impacts for small farms and the devolved administrations in particular. Key questions arise as to whether the overall aims and approaches are appropriate.
Consequently, the issue around whether the policies can promote a sustainable and resilient agriculture is core. To this end, it is necessary to consider three central questions: (i) what does resilience entail and whether this is a suitable frame; (ii) what flexibility there is to develop resilience; and then overall (iii) whether the policies enable, promote and/or ensure resilience? In doing so, the paper will also take into account the multilevel governance framework across the UK and in particular the relationship between the devolved administrations and the UK Government/Westminster (including the potential to influence each other’s policies); and the central role that small, family farms can play in promoting biodiversity and rural communities.
This paper is based on a forthcoming book co-written by Petetin and Dobbs entitled ‘Brexit and Agriculture’ to be published by Routledge in 2021.