Grantham Journal column: I want to hear your views on agricultural support post-Brexit

Nick Boles, MP for Grantham and Stamford
Nick Boles, MP for Grantham and Stamford

As we leave the European Union one of the biggest questions for a rural area like Lincolnshire will be how a British government should support farmers after we have taken back control of this crucial area of policy making.

We are currently part of the Common Agricultural Policy which has always 
been designed with the protection of very small French (and, to a lesser extent, German and Italian) farmers in mind.

Left to our own devices we have the opportunity to design a very different system of farm support.

But that begs a lot of questions.

Do we want to focus taxpayers’ money on supporting smaller producers eking out a living on stunningly beautiful marginal land in places like the Lake District and Exmoor?

Are we ready to ask big and efficient producers in places like Lincolnshire to compete on the open market without any subsidy?

Do we want to maintain - or even increase - the current emphasis on environmental stewardship, rewarding farmers for encouraging biodiversity and crop rotation?

Where do we want to strike the balance between productive efficiency and environmental 
wellbeing?

Are we willing to be more open to genetically modified (GM) crops than the EU is, and recognise that well targeted use of GM can improve the environmental position by reducing the need to use pesticides, while also increasing productivity and lowering costs.

These are knotty questions and in Lincolnshire alone there will be lots of different views.

At the end of the summer I want to start exploring these questions with people across the constituency.

With farmers, naturally, but also with other people active in the modern rural economy and with those who take an interest in our landscape, wildlife and the health of our planet.

I will be setting up a series of meetings in different parts of the constituency and listening hard to what I am told.

Leaving the EU presents us with a unique opportunity to shape the future of one of our most the most important features of life in 
Lincolnshire, so I look forward to hearing a wide range of views and reflecting those back to the national debate that will be unfolding in Westminster.