Cornwall’s farmers are urging government to prioritise food production as they face losing tens of millions of pounds of funding.

Cornwall’s farmers are warning that enabling them to be efficient food producers must be a policy priority if they are to continue to play their vital role in the west country’s rural economy and help deliver environmental benefits.

Rising costs and reducing support payments mean the situation is increasingly difficult for many.

To deliver socially, economically and environmentally, the county’s family farms need to remain financially resilient, profitable and productive.

According to Defra’s Agricultural Price Index the cost of fertiliser more than doubled between March 2021 and March 2022, with red diesel used on farms going up by almost a half in the same period.

Meanwhile, research commissioned by the Great South West Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the NFU shows that the county is due to lose tens of millions of pounds in the transition away from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) towards a system of payments for ‘public goods’ like flood prevention.

In 2020 Cornwall received £51.6million in BPS payments.

Adding the amounts due to be deducted from this sum for each year of the transition period (2021 to 2027) shows that the total BPS amount lost from the rural economy of the county by the end of 2027 will be £44.5million.

According to Cornwall Trade and Investment, the food industry in the Duchy is worth £2billion and one in three jobs in the county have some form of attachment to Cornish food and drink, equating to 60,000 people.

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Farmers will meet to discuss their role as food producers at this weekend’s Royal Cornwall Show.

Speaking ahead of the show, the first since 2019, the county’s NFU chair, beef and sheep farmer Rob Halliday, said: “Economics continue to be a worry.

"Working capital is a particular headache and the government’s announcement that half of BPS will be paid from the end of July was a small crumb of comfort to some.

“I am, however, confused.

"BPS is being reduced, supposedly to be replaced by greater returns from the marketplace and environmental stewardship, yet an advance payment is tacit acceptance of the need for such income.

“We must ensure that profitable agricultural production remains at the centre of our future vision for the countryside, and for businesses to be able to invest, remunerate and attract staff.

“Given the profit currently being made by some supply and retail businesses, we must also lobby government to ensure we have fair and competitive market structures.”