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Landmark Agriculture Bill completes House of Commons journey

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An image of countryside with rolling green hills at sunset.

There has been widespread media coverage of the landmark Agriculture Bill which yesterday (13 May) passed its final stages in the House of Commons.

In an exclusive blog for Farmers Guardian and an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, the Environment Secretary noted that this new legislation provides the opportunity to design an agriculture policy fit for both the farmers of today and those in the future.

There was also coverage of the Bill in BBC News, The Telegraph, PoliticsHome, Yorkshire Post, Western Morning News, Western Daily Press, Express and Star, Farmers Guardian, Horticulture Week, ENDS Report and Farming UK.

Our Agriculture Bill is now on track to pass through parliament by the summer, so that we can start to move to a fairer agricultural system in England. It will transform farming in this country, recognising that the production of food and the protection of the environment must go hand-in-hand if we are to safeguard our countryside and farming communities for the future.

It sets out how farmers will in the future be rewarded with public money for “public goods” – such as cleaner air or water – replacing the current subsidy system which pays farmers for the total amount of land farmed, skewing payments towards the largest landowners rather than those delivering specific public benefits.

Speaking yesterday (13 May) in the House of Commons, Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said:

 “The Bill provides a framework for an exciting future for farming. It will ensure that those who produce our food are properly rewarded, and that farming efficiently and improving the environment will go hand in hand in the future.

“I very much look forward to working with colleagues across the House to develop the environmental land management policies, and to working out how they will work not only on the ground, but above and beneath it.”

Defra has worked closely with representatives from the agricultural industry throughout the development of the Bill, and we have always been clear that we will continue to champion British produce and will not compromise on our high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards in any of our trade negotiations.

Minister Prentis went on to say:

“I was elected on a very clear manifesto commitment—one that the Prime Minister has reiterated since—that in all our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.

“This Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure that any deals live up to the values of our farmers and consumers.”

The Bill also introduces new powers to improve fairness and transparency in the supply chain and will enable the Government to introduce grants to help farmers add value to their produce while reducing costs.

In addition, the Government will have a legal obligation for the first time to produce an assessment of our food security at least once every five years.

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  1. Comment by DAVID SIMPSON posted on

    Slightly dismayed that there needed to be a separate environment and agriculture bill. Surely they should be under one umbrella sustainable land management!
    The bills are still far too based on allowing land mangers to do the right thing in terms of the environment. This 'laissez faire' approach hasn't worked for 50 years. If land mangers don't manage their land sustainably, agricultural use or not, then they there should be strong legal penalties imposed.
    A good example of the underlying political attitudes that are still with us - is the recent propping up of the dairy industry because of a reduced demand caused by the government's response to the epidemic's.
    Here in East Devon I resent public money being used, an area that the E.A. consider inappropriate for such a land use. Local residents here suffer regular muddy flooding in winter, the roads are continuously potholed and the hedges damaged by over large vehicles. The local council and highways pay for the damage from our rates - the dairy farmers just carry on as if they have no responsibility whatsoever! They make no effort to maintain field edge buffers,regularly use contractors with huge vehicles to 'harvest' silage and maize. The smell and the disruption to local roads is a major problem for villagers throughout the year.
    I say all this as a land manager of a small area of land, managed primarily for ancient woodland, wildlife and orchards.

  2. Comment by Jane posted on

    Animals are not food

  3. Comment by andrew mier posted on

    England only?
    Surely it is time for our sovereign parliament at Westminster to "Take back control"and for us to have a truly national policy ?

  4. Comment by Helen Williams posted on

    Absolutely agree with you and it is so important that the public money is safeguarded so that the long term goals can be protected. Our trees that created the environment we breathe in every day are not all the same and do not have the same properties. Pine trees lead to acidification and the death of the soil for other crops and have shallow root systems. So NOT JUST ANY TREE. Some are water tolerant and others have long tap roots. There is a tree for every occasion and purpose and can help with flooding and the proliferation of a large diversity of wildlife and insects. I agree this is a phenomenally complicated subject and we need a massive input into information and a serious properly invested National Body is vital. It should be open to public scrutiny too.

  5. Comment by Helen Williams posted on

    Lets hope that all the money invested in Land Use that is not farming is protected properly for the future and not just wasted in the short term for long term benefits for the land owner. If trees are planted they should be a proper mix of trees to benefit the land and soil with regard had to the benefits to the soil, acidification, the production of oxygen and the sustaining of diverse wildlife, the capture of water, flooding and the proliferation of insects and in particular those that pollinate our vegetables and fruit. The safe planting of trees including fruit and nut trees to protect them from the high winds that might come hand in hand with climate change.

  6. Comment by Kathryn Keeley posted on

    This is a subject so close to my heart. We hold the land in trust for future generations and it is important that those that use it, including animals are well catered for. Animal welfare activists should not be mad crazies looking for attention but sensible, practical people who genuinely care about the environment and the living things that use it. Government has a huge role to play in this in overseeing issues across the country as problems in one county can impact on neighbouring counties. Grazing animals and wildlife may cross county lines and a national overseeing body is really important to ensure a balance between agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife.