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Brexit deal provides certainty, Gove to tell farmers

Combine harvester on farm in Lincolnshire Image copyright Getty Images

Theresa May’s Brexit deal gives farmers certainty about the future, Environment Secretary Michael Gove will say.

In a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Gove will argue the agreement struck last year will ensure a smooth transition period for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU.

He will also say Brexit will provide farmers with a “world of opportunity”.

Mr Gove will pledge investment in robotics, artificial intelligence and other innovation, to boost yields.

In his speech, the environment secretary will promise to “continue to demonstrate the case for, and put in place the policies that underpin, long-term investment in British agriculture and the rural economy”.

He will say: “A week can be a long time in politics, but farming requires the patience and foresight to see beyond the immediate and scan the far horizon.

“It is a quintessentially long-term business, one that benefits from as much certainty as possible about the future.”

Image copyright Getty Images

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March, with MPs due to vote in the Commons in mid-January on the prime minister’s withdrawal bill.

Urging MPs to support the prime minister’s deal, Mr Gove will acknowledge it “isn’t perfect”.

But he will highlight the fact that it ensures that farmers’ current access to the EU is unaffected during the 21-month transition period following Brexit.

After that the deal allows UK exporters to maintain continuous tariff-free and quota-free access to EU markets.

Mr Gove will add “it allows us largely to diverge from EU regulation after the transition, to leave the Common Agricultural Policy and end all mandatory payments to the EU”.

The National Farmer’s Union has long highlighted fears about the potential disruption of Brexit and delays at borders if a deal is not reached.

It also wants the government to relax environmental regulations and do more to ensure stability.

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