Countdown to Brexit: Julie Robinson, Partner and Head of Agriculture at Roythornes Solicitors

Julie Robinson

With the countdown to Brexit quickly ticking away, Business Link Magazine invites a select number of the region’s business leaders to offer their thoughts.

Here we talk with Julie Robinson, partner and head of agriculture at Roythornes Solicitors and ask what happens to the Agriculture Bill if there is no Brexit?

“The whole rationale behind the Agriculture Bill was to enable a new support scheme for farmers to be put in place following our departure from the EU and the common agricultural policy. There are, however, some other elements in the bill which could survive a no-Brexit outcome.

“Without the freedom to determine our own domestic agricultural policy, much of the bill will be consigned to the no-Brexit bonfire of draft legislation. If we stay in the EU, we will continue to be bound by the same CAP framework as all other member states. That is pretty much the end of the line as far as internal discussions about a radical new support policy based on public goods delivery goes, unless significant discretion is allowed to member states under the EU rules that will govern the CAP from 2020.

“The elements of the bill that are candidates for removal include direct payments and other financial support provisions, intervention in agricultural commodity markets and marketing standards and carcass classification. Some candidates for survival include the red meat levy scheme, data collection and sharing in agri-food supply chains and fairness in the supply chain.

“Of course, we simply do not know at this very late stage, whether we will leave the EU on 29 March (with or without a deal), whether we will leave at a later date, or whether we will remain inside the bloc. Like all other businesses across the country, farm businesses have to plan for all eventualities. Having seen the Agriculture Bill and accompanying policy statement, some may feel that staying in the CAP is not a bad option.”