The Agriculture Bill is being introduced into Parliament today (12 September) and will set out how farmers and land managers will in future be paid for ‘public goods’, such as better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, public access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding.
Commenting on the Bill, CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “The development of a new post-Brexit UK agriculture policy is a seminal moment for the future of our countryside.
“We fully support the Government’s ambition for a future where farming and food production go hand in hand with a healthy environment.
“The CLA has long promoted a contractual model for the delivery of public goods, as an alternative to direct payments, through our Land Management Contract. This should provide clear objectives and obligations for both the Government and the land manager. We are pleased the Government has recognised the full range of public benefits that farmers and land managers can deliver and that they will be rewarded for work such as reducing flood risk, enhancing soil health and air quality and improving access to the countryside.
“The Government has provided some certainty on transition. This is crucial for businesses to enable them to start planning for the future. Seven years should be sufficient for this.
“Initial proposals to cap payments for larger farm businesses would have had a catastrophic effect. Proposals to reduce payments in manageable increments, spread across the farming industry, will enable businesses to avoid the risk of rapid change with no time to prepare. The Government must now ensure that further cuts align with the introduction of the new environmental land management contracts to avoid any cliff edges for farm businesses.
“Recognition that the Government will bring forward support for investments such as new technologies and collaboration to boost productivity is welcome but further details are now required on how this will be made available.
“We are pleased the Government has recognised the need for a UK-wide framework for post-Brexit agricultural and environmental policy and that Westminster and the Welsh Government are committed to working together to achieve this. We will be pressing for an agreement as soon as possible.”