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Jacob Anthony: why as a 23 year old farmer I’ll be voting for Brexit

Guest Blogger, 16 June 2016

As a Welsh livestock farmer many of you may have been led to believe that it would be the norm for myself and many other people in my area/sector to be extremely pro-EU, but this is most certainly not the case. Over the last several months many of the discussions that me and my young farming colleagues have had in relation to agriculture and its future have all ended up with one unanimous outcome – the fact that something drastically needs to CHANGE and the only real way to guarantee it is to vote for Brexit on June 23rd.

We can change our own government every few years but this golden opportunity to leave the EU will not come about again for at least another 30 – 40 years, and during this time we ourselves will have very little say in who makes decisions in the European Parliament, something that baffles me!

From a farming point of view the Remain campaign are continuously telling us that we will be the biggest losers because of the Common Agricultural Policy payments that we receive. However, something that people need to consider is that the UK pays in £6 Billion into CAP but yet only receives £3.8 Billion back in payments! So this asks the question of where the other £2.2 Billion is disappearing to?

Something I can’t quite fathom is the ‘common’ aspect of the CAP. We have the same rules to fit all nations which makes no sense when you have people farming reindeer at -40 degrees in the arctic circle, olive growers in the Mediterranean farming at +40 degree heat and then everything else in between – it just cant work. It makes no sense and makes every aspect of my farming life very complicated with an abundance of rules, regulations and red-tape. I feel that by leaving the EU we can have rules and regulations that will suit our own climate and agricultural systems and which would therefore be far fairer.

There is another, more troubling aspect that highlights the dire need for us to show some guts and leave the EU for the sake of the long term future of farming. This is the very real prospect of more countries with poor GDPs joining the EU and taking a cut of our money from Brussels. The most frightening thing about the new countries is the size of some of them. For example, Turkey, which is trying to join, would be one of the largest countries in terms of land-mass in the European Union and with subsidies currently being paid on an area-type system this is a very unsettling concept for us here in the UK as we are one of the smaller countries.

The current payment scheme from Brussels is rewarding inefficiency which is contributing to the lack of opportunities for new entrants into the agricultural sector. If we were instead able to write our own payment scheme to encourage progressive and innovative farmers this would not only help the industry in the UK as a whole, but also local economies. Farmers would be investing more back into machinery dealerships, agricultural builders, and other rural businesses which would help to create jobs in the rural sector and mean that areas of the countryside could flourish.

As for the trade concept, I struggle to see the argument that the EU will not trade with us if we leave. Given that we import a far higher value of goods from them than we export back I just can’t see them jeopardising this relationship as it would be to their own severe detriment. By leaving, new trade negotiations can be sought with world powers. I think that initially these deals will take a few years to negotiate, maybe leading to a couple of hard years, but long term we would see undoubted benefits.

Can any farmer honestly say they are happy with the direction the industry is heading in at the moment? Well there is only one way to get guaranteed change and that is to leave the EU. Not for the short term, but for the long term we must vote to leave, this is not a leap into the dark but a leap into the light.

Jacob Anthony is a 23-year-old 5th generation beef and sheep farmer from Bridgend, South Wales. His blog was originally posted on the Farmers For Britain website here.

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