View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
4 January 2017

What Andrea Leadsom hates about the countryside

Existential debates about hedges... and something else?

By Julia Rampen

Andrea Leadsom has pledged to get rid of “EU billboards littering the landscape” and other such “red tape” in a speech to farmers.

“No more 6 foot EU billboards littering the landscape. No more existential debates to determine what counts as a bush, a hedge, or a tree. And no more, ridiculous, bureaucratic three-crop rule,” she declared. “By cutting the red tape that comes out of Brussels, we will free our farmers to grow more, sell more and export more great British food.”

So now we’ve all established Leadsom doesn’t like debates about trees, what has she actually said? Or, more importantly, what hasn’t she said?

The short answer? Anything past 2020. 

While a promise to allow farmers to do whatever they want may go down well, the fact is they still need money to do it with. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Under the Common Agricultural Policy, between 2014 and 2020 the UK is to receive €25.1bn in Pillar 1 funding, and €2.6bn in Pillar 2 funding. As of 2014, roughly 69 per cent of that funding was in direct payments to farmers. 

Leadsom repeated the reassurance that farmers will receive “the same level of financial support” as they did under the EU until 2020, and Pillar 2 payments signed before leaving the EU will be “guaranteed for their lifetime”. 

But since the bulk of direct payments come under Pillar 1, this isn’t very reassuring. 

Oh, and there’s another thing. Critics of the Cap have argued for years it is wasteful and doesn’t actually encourage productivity. And some of the leading critics are based in – that’s right, you guessed it – the UK. 

According to Jeremy Franks in a June 2016 paper for the Centre for Rural Economy: “The UK has for a long time been in the forefront of the campaign to totally phase out direct payments.”

Defra, Leadsom’s department, concluded in the last round of reform negotiations that Cap payments “provide little value for money for the taxpayer”. 

So what did Leadsom promise? She said there will be a “domestic successor” to Cap and a system “fit for the 21st century”. And like the Cap critics of the past, she is extremely interested in productivity.

Leadsom was also one of the founders of Fresh Start, a group of Conservatives demanding EU reforms. In 2013, its manifesto included a demand to “phase out” Pillar 1 direct payments to farmers.

What solution did Fresh Start suggest to help farmers struggling with less financial subsidies? Well, that would be a “parallel reduction in red tape and regulation” – just like the one Leadsom has announced.

Content from our partners
Unlocking the potential of a national asset, St Pancras International
Time for Labour to turn the tide on children’s health
How can we deliver better rail journeys for customers?

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU