EU farming will miss UK post-Brexit

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on both agriculture and environment in the European Parliament, said the great majority of UK MEPs over the years had taken a sound, sensible and scientific approach to regulation of machinery, products and techniques.

The MEP for the West Midlands was addressing a range of industry figures at a Crop Science Forum and awards dinner.

She said: "I am not making a party political point, but a statement on behalf of all mainstream British MEPs when I say to European colleagues who care about food security and the practicalities of feeding a growing population:  'You'll miss us when we're gone!'

"In a European Parliament which is increasingly polarised and an EU where governments increasingly listen to scaremongering instead of science, UK politicians have been a consistent voice for rational, research-based decision-making."

Miss McIntyre, who has authored a series of parliamentary reports on harnessing advancing technology to make farming more sustainable and productive, highlighted the pioneering work in her own region of Harper Adams University, Shropshire.

She said: "They were first in the world to grow, tend and harvest a crop using robotic tractors and drones, with no operators in the driving seat or agronomists on the ground. Now they are broadening out to 35-hectares and a new vision of the future of farming. This is no longer a feasibility study, but a real world farm, complete with irregular shaped fields, obstacles, undulating land and pathways. This will be a real testbed for agricultural innovation."

Miss McIntyre said such advances augured well for the future gender balance in agriculture.

"As agricultural work becomes less dependant on brawn and more on automation and know-how, I think we can expect the under-representaion of women in some sectors to be rebalanced. That can only be a good thing."

 

Photo: MEP Anthea McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on both agriculture and environment in the European Parliament