Nuffield Scholar - 2017 - JONATHAN BAKER

Jonathan Baker

I’m based in London with my wife and daughter but I’m a south-west lad at heart and rarely miss an opportunity to clear my lungs and mind by walking, cycling or relaxing in the countryside.

I currently work for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) as a Senior Land Use Policy Adviser. My job involves working with officials, stakeholders and members on improving and informing land use policy with a focus on conservation. I also provide advice to CLA members as needed. I come from a research background and have worked in consultancy and Government on environmental and land use policy. I studied environmental science at Bath Spa and Environmental Technology at Imperial College London. I’m driven to better understand what I see as the land use sector’s two strategic challenges; how to provide food in a sustainable way and how to create business models for non-food production. I am also a Fellow of the Centre for Evaluating Complexity across the Nexus (CECAN) and bring a analytical point of view to my current role and to the Scholarship.

Insights from agricultural policies of selected non-EU developed countrie

Study Overview

The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has shaped the UK’s agricultural policy and landscape for forty years. As the UK leaves the EU there is an opportunity to look beyond the borders of the EU and seek inspiration from the policies of other developed countries.

This report presents insights from the agricultural policies of Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland. The agricultural policies of these countries represent a broad interpretation of agriculture. Each nation recognises that agriculture is multifunctional and their policies seek to optimise these functions according to their own priorities and context.

The four common functions of agriculture were sustaining rural communities, environmental sustainability, economic development and food production. With the exception of New Zealand, the visited countries provided their farmers with a high degree of support through tariffs, subsidy, favourable tax arrangements and market control. In these countries there was limited desire for significant change in the total level of support. Policy makers, politicians and farmers felt that the existing arrangements were necessary to ensure agriculture continued to provide the required multiple functions. There were ongoing debates about how support was provided, with reforming voices tending to want a shift away from market protection or subsidy linked to production to direct support potentially with environmental conditions. With the partial exception of Switzerland and some yet to be implemented changes in South Korea, there was little sign that such reforms would succeed. In Japan and Norway in particular, few were calling for reforms due to the political influence of farmer representatives and public acceptance of existing policies and their impacts.

New Zealand provides little if any support to farmers and its farming industry is a global success story. There was however growing public pressure for the Government to intervene more in the sector. Water quality has been impacted by an increase in intensive dairy production and overseas investors have driven up the price of land, making succession for New Zealand farmers more difficult.

Seen from an international perspective, the proposed reforms in the UK are exceptional. The likelihood of the UK having four distinct agricultural policies and the move in England and Wales away from direct support to a policy of ‘public money for public goods’ are unprecedented. The UK can still learn from the countries visited. The report makes the following recommendations:

  • UK and devolved Governments should consider a broader range of policy measures than direct support when crafting their agricultural and rural policies.
  • Government, the public and farmers should determine which functions of agriculture they want to see emphasised.
  • The UK and devolved Governments should recognise that the vitality of rural areas cannot be taken for granted.
  • Farmers and their representatives must determine the relationship they want to have with Government(s).
  • UK and devolved Government should reform reflectively. Future UK agricultural policies will be unprecedented. Policy makers should be humble and prepared to modify their reforms in light of negative impacts.

Scholar Video