Revised Agriculture Bill sets out new direction for farming

18 Janvier, 2020, 09:22 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • The new Agriculture Bill represents a radical rethink of farming practice in the UK

The legislation will aim to incentivise farmers with public money for "public good", including work to secure better air and water quality, higher standards of welfare for animals and measures to curb flooding.

During the term of the current Parliament, subsidies at the same rate as the European Union - around £ 3 billion a year - will be paid to farmers from taxpayers' funds, but some of the wealthiest farmers who benefit most from the system may expect to lose when new contracts are introduced gradually.

"[It] will transform British agriculture, allowing a balance between food production and the environment that will protect our countryside and farming communities for the future", she said.

"This is one of the most important reforms for years, rewarding farmers for the work they do to safeguard our environment and helping us meet crucial goals on climate change".

"We welcome the proposed incentivisation to farmers in England but note that disease knows no borders: a joined-up approach with good collaboration throughout the United Kingdom is essential for real progress to be made", she added.

With data collected across the supply chain, Defra said it would help food producers strengthen their negotiating position at the farm gate and seek a fairer return.

The changes will be phased out over an agricultural transition period, which is due to start in 2021 and run for seven years.

The Environment Department (Defra) plans to "delink" payments from actually having to farm land, with farmers able to spend the money on investing in productivity, diversifying their businesses or retiring from farming.

The revision is part of a handful of the agriculture bill, presented to parliament Thursday more than a year after the previous government was forced to drop legislation amid the turbulence of Brexit.

"It will be really important for strong commitments to animal health and welfare to be replicated in the devolved administrations as legislation is developed across the United Kingdom and to coordinate throughout the United Kingdom food chain".

Financial assistance monitoring - the Secretary of State will monitor, evaluate and regularly report on our financial assistance schemes. There will also be a big focus on soil quality.

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There will be powers to regulate the use of fertilizers and organic farming after Brexit.

NFU president Minette Batters said: "I'm pleased that the government has clearly listened to numerous concerns we raised with the Bill in the last Parliament and has acted to ensure the vital role of farmers as food producers is properly valued".

We will continue to pressure the government to create a priority standards commission to oversee and advise on future food trade policies and negotiations. "It is vital we have proper parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals and it is worrying that the government is resisting legislating on this".

"Farmers are rightly proud of their environmental efforts and it is crucial this new policy recognises and rewards the environmental benefits they deliver, both now and in the future".

This will contribute to the government's commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050, while at the same time, helping to boost farmers' productivity.

For subsequent years we are committed to matching the current budget available to farmers in every year of this Parliament, providing certainty and stability in advance of transitioning to the new system in England and phasing out direct payments in favour of rewarding the provision of "public goods".

"In the coming days we will scrutinise this Bill in great detail to ensure that it provides the policy for a thriving farming sector post-Brexit".

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has called for more clarity from the government on transition.

Organic farmers were also concerned, saying the bill did not go far enough to help farmers cope with climate and ecological emergencies.

"As new payment schemes for farmers are developed, there must be clear support for approaches already being pioneered and made to work by farmers such as agroforestry and conservation agriculture". We are rightly recognised as a world leader for our animal welfare standards, so measures that incentivise industry to both maintain and enhance those standards are very positive and put the country on a firm footing as we build future trade links.



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