Greener UK has welcomed the publication of the government's new agriculture bill (16 January 2020).
The bill is set to establish a new system where farmers will receive financial support for providing 'public goods' rather than for land ownership. These public 'goods', or 'benefits', will include restoring habitats, providing cleaner water, and improving the quality of the soil. The transition to the new system will commence in 2021.
With an urgent need to address the climate and nature crisis, this ambitious bill should help farmers restore nature and mitigate carbon emissions while producing the food we need.
Nevertheless, there remain some wider concerns with the government's approach. Despite pledging to maintain the UK's high food and environmental standards, the government has not yet put such commitments into law. This would assuage concerns from many quarters that standards in areas such as food safety could be compromised through trade deals after Brexit.
Shaun Spiers, chair of the Greener UK coalition, said:
“The government should be congratulated for resetting farming policy in this way. It will enable farmers to play an integral role in restoring nature and reducing carbon emissions while producing the food we need.
“To provide more certainty for farmers and consumers, ministers should now commit in law to the high environmental standards we already enjoy, and make sure long term funding will be at the level the environmental crisis demands.”
Shaun's comments were covered by ITV News, via the Press Association.
Extra reading: in this excellent blog on Green Alliance's 'Inside Track', the RSPB's Tom Lancaster points out that there are new elements of the bill that provide more assurances on future funding and the regulation of the relationship between farmers and big retailers and processors. We will be considering the details on these welcome developments very closely as the bill proceeds through parliament and as plans are developed.