Since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, the CLA has taken a lead role in England and Wales in the development of new agricultural legislation and policies for a new era. The introduction of the Agriculture Act 2020 signaled a change in pace, and in England there is now a shift away from policy development to implementing the new policies. The Welsh Government is bringing forward its own Agriculture Bill later in 2021 and it is expected that new agricultural policies will quickly follow based around their Sustainable Farming Programme.
The CLA's work
In England, the CLA's influence started early with the publication of the CLA Land Management Contract in May 2018, setting out how a payment for public goods scheme should be designed to work for farmers, land managers and the environment. It was the first of its kind and has stood the test of time. We still revisit the document to get back to those first principles, and it is remarkable how similar the environmental land management programme in England is.
The plans for agricultural transition are key. Shifting from a system based around direct payments to one that pays for public goods is a good ambition, but it must be done carefully. The CLA has worked with Defra in developing a range of programmes to support farmers and land managers in the transition, including new grant schemes and advisory programmes. The CLA was successful in lobbying for better alignment of the cuts and introduction of new schemes, which resulted in the early introduction of the new Sustainable Farming Incentive and a review of payment rates for agri-environment schemes.
We are now at a point where new policies in England are being launched, but they won't be launched together, and many will evolve. Members need to stay up-to-date on these changes with the latest in-depth analysis and information from the CLA and this hub contains member briefings, analysis on the latest policies and schemes and signposting to more information.