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Home/Scottsboro High School gets a first-hand experience with...

Scottsboro High School gets a first-hand experience with agriculture

Britain is expected to radically overhaul agricultural policy after it leaves the European Union and the bloc may have to make changes too when it loses Britain's net contributions to the region's farming budget.

For the first time in decades, farmers in Britain will have to fight for a slice of government funds with departments such as health and education once Brussels hands over the purse strings for farming budgets to London.

Britain's exit also spells trouble for EU farmers as the country puts more into the bloc's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) than it takes out; meaning subsides for farmers on the continent could also fall unless the funding gap is plugged.

British farmers have been shielded by a powerful farming lobby within Europe and benefit from EU subsidies, preferential trade deals and access to cheap seasonal labour, but they fear they will be losers on all three fronts in a post-Brexit world.

"The bloody-mindedness of the French or the Irish in standing up for agriculture was not just standing up for their farmers but actually brought a good deal for us as well. Without them we are more vulnerable," said Nigel Miller, who has a sheep and cattle farm near Galashiels in Scotland's Borders region.

"The reality is, as a farmer, I don't see the UK government expending a lot of negotiating capital to protect agriculture. Their main issue when they look for trade deals will be financial services, banking, etc.," Miller said.

Britain voted to leave the 28-nation EU in a referendum in June last year. It has two years to sort out the terms of the divorce before it comes into effect in March 2019.

In 2015, British farmers received $3.5 billion (£2.79 billion) from the EU's agriculture fund in direct payments based chiefly on the amount of land they farm, essentially a form of income support that does not take individual needs into account.