British farmers failing to 'keep pace' with European rivals, urged to 'dramatically' boost productivity ahead of Brexit
British farmers have been urged to "dramatically" increase productivity levels if they hope to survive after Brexit as they are failing to "keep pace" with European rivals and the United States.
After decades of relying on the EU subsidies, UK farmers must now boost efficiency to close a "yawning" productivity gap of £4.3bn in lost GDP, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
"Currently, Britain is falling significantly behind major competitor countries in the rate of growth in productivity, with pace-setters like the USA and the Netherlands growing productivity three times faster than we are domestically," an AHDB spokesman told the Telegraph ahead of this week's Oxford Farming Conference.
He added: "A yawning productivity gap – worth over £4.3bn in lost GDP between 2000 and 2013 alone – has opened up as a result of the country failing to keep pace.
"A revolution in agricultural productivity will be needed – and fast – if we are to capitalise on Brexit, continue to feed ourselves as a nation and protect the environment."
The stark warning comes as the government draws up its post-Brexit farming strategy, which will see the UK quit the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and end farming subsidies from Brussels of up to £3bn per year.
Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, has said that the government will match the subsidies until 2020, at which point they are expected to be drastically reformed.
Farming chiefs say the new policy should provide the same level of funding but agree it could be allocated more efficiently through tax cuts and investment in key research areas.