THE debate rages daily. How much will it cost to leave the EU? Will the UK stay in the common trading market or go it alone. 

But a farmer from north Essex has beens standing up for the rights of the rural community post Brexit and making sure its voice is heard despite the wall of sounds.

Guy Smith has told the House of Lords that policymakers must do more to support farmers and rural communities in a post-Brexit world.

Mr Smith, who owns about 1,000 acres of land near St Osyth, gave evidence at the Select Committee on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act.

The committee questioned representatives of the Countryside Alliance, the Country Land and Business Association and the National Farmers Union, of which Mr Smith is vice-president.

The sessions examined whether the Government has a coherent vision for rural areas.

The NFU claims the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) needs to be more effective in tackling rural issues.

It has recommended Defra collects and co-ordinates the evidence needed to better inform Government policy to meet rural needs, such as broadband connectivity.

Mr Smith said: “My experience of meeting officials in various Government departments on different issues varies greatly.

“I’m into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to talk about broadband, I’m into Department for Communities and Local Government to talk about planning and I’m into the Home Office to talk about labour and rural crime as well as visiting Defra frequently on all the issues that affect our members.

“Sometimes you do find joined-up thinking and an understanding of the impacts on farming – sometimes the issues just fall between departments instead of being picked up.

“For 45 years we have had policies being devised and constructed in Brussels, implementing successive Common Agricultural Policy reforms driven from the European stage.

“Now we are on the cusp of huge change.

“Farming will be the most impacted industry in a post-Brexit world. We will have an agricultural policy devised and constructed in Whitehall.

“I am convinced if the right decisions are made we will have a flowering of rural areas, a flowering of the farming industry – we could be producing more of our food needs.

“However, with the wrong polices we could end up importing more food where standards are different.”

Mr Smith said he is also concerned about how the Countryside Stewardship scheme, which provides financial incentives for land managers to look after their environment, is being delivered.

He said the system is overcomplicated, that applications packs are incorrect and arrive late and rumours of delayed payments are stopping farmers taking up the scheme.

He said: “Farming lies at the heart of our countryside and rural communities deliver for our economy, our wellbeing and our environment.

“The food and farming industry contributes £109 billion to the national economy and provides jobs for around four million people. Going forward, all departments across Government should have responsibility for rural proofing including how they evidence and develop policies.

“Politicians must know the impact of their policies on those being affected – they need to be finding out what’s happening on the ground.”

“There needs to be an understanding of the needs of the rural and agricultural community backed up by comprehensive surveys done in a robust way.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has suggested that farmers in the UK would produce more food themselves in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal.

In response to claims from the industry that food prices could rise if there was a no-deal, he said the UK would respond by “growing more here and buying more from around the world”.