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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

£45 Million for Kent Farming at Risk

June 21, 2017 8:16 PM

Kent County Council's Growth, Economic Development and Communities Committee were warned today that Kent business currently gets £45 million per year in EU farming support.

But the government has not firmly committed to replacing this funding after 2022, likely to lead to job losses and businesses Antony Hookclosing.

Councillors received an evidence based report from Professor Mark Hammond and Dr Amelia Hadfield of Canterbury Christ Church University. They found that farming businesses in Kent remain deeply concerned about uncertainly over Brexit.

Antony Hook, county councillor for Faversham and opposition spokesman for Economic Development said,

"Food and drink is the UK's biggest manufacturing sector and is hugely important here in Kent. Many people's jobs are in this area. A loss of £45 million from Kent's economy would do us all serious damage."

"It is vital that the government makes clear as soon as possible how much EU funding will be replaced by the UK. The politicians who led the Leave campaign should be able to tell us as they are now in government."

"This issue underlines how important it is that the people have a say on any exit deal. If farming support is not protected and Brexit is going to harm Kent farming, then people should have the option to say that having seen the reality, we don't want this."

Some Conservative councillors told the committee it would be good if Brexit leads to higher food prices.

Antony said, "Families in Kent cannot afford to see their grocery bills rise further. No-one should be cheering on the idea that Brexit could lead to higher food prices."

Councillors also heard that Kent farming is seriously worried about the supply of people to work. Since the vote to Leave the number of people applying for work through recruitment agencies has shrunk by 50%, reported Dr Hadfield.

Antony Hook said, "This is deeply alarming. Farms are hugely important. They support the rest of society and they must be able to get the people they need to work."