As Britain is preparing for the task of disentangling its laws from those of the European Union, a first light has been shown on potential future agricultural policies after Brexit. Andrea Leadsom, the new Conservative environment secretary, has stated that many EU laws and regulation in this area will be scrapped, allowing for a ‘Year Zero’ approach to regulation of the agricultural sector after Brexit.
Policies and subsidies for agriculture are central to EU policy - there are over 800 pieces of EU environmental legislation covering wildlife and habitats, water quality, farming, food and fisheries. Rather than aiming to define new policies for Britain’s environment and agriculture, Leadsom says that she ‘will be looking at scrapping the rules that hold us back and focusing instead on what works best for the UK’.
One particular policy singled out by Leadsom is the ‘three-crop rule’ which is a 2013 EU measure designed to promote biodiversity on larger farms. She aims to remove this policy to allow farmers greater choice as how to manage their land.
A recent report by the UK’s environmental audit select committee notes that many of the regulation around food production and the environment in the UK come from EU law; their loss could mean a weakening of these rules, which could damage the environment and reduce the viability of farms, food security and safety.