CLA welcomes Environment Secretary’s comments at The Oxford Farming Conference

08 January 2020

The CLA welcomes the comments made by the Environment Secretary to boost productivity for farmers while protecting the environment.

Theresa Villiers, pictured, said at the Oxford Farming Conference that throughout 2020 there will be radical changes to agriculture policy, which includes introducing the Agriculture Bill to Parliament this month.

She said “we want our new scheme to deliver value for money as well as boosting sustainable productivity to support farmers in their work of feeding the nation” and “our proposals for Environmental Land Management will be one of the most important environmental reforms for 40 years”. 

CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “Nobody should underestimate the challenge of leaving the Common Agricultural Policy – but the transition to ELMs provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to move to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly system of public goods. 

“It is essential this transition is not rushed as it’s for the long term, with farmers and land managers being supported through this radical change. The Secretary of State and the department must allow proper time for members of the rural community to adjust and adapt, which might mean delaying the start of this transition.”

Mr Bridgeman also welcomed the Secretary of State’s focus on rural productivity. 

He added: “The rural economy has immense potential for economic growth and job creation, but we need the right policies to unleash it. It is at least 16 percent less productive than the national average, but closing that productivity gap could add £43bn to the national economy.

“But we need recognition that boosting rural productivity is more than farming alone. It will be a cross government effort touching policy areas in many major departments – digital and energy connectivity, planning reform and tax simplification are just as important to many rural businesses as policy initiatives led by Defra.”

“The Secretary of State should lead this cross government working with one sole focus – to unleash the potential of all rural businesses.”

To read the Secretary of State’s speech in full, visit  https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/a-vision-for-future-farming