The NFU has urged the government to ensure the Agriculture Bill has a “clear and overarching” focus on food production ahead of the Bill’s second reading in the House of Commons today (10 October).
The landmark document, published by Defra last month, sets out the domestic policies that will replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy after Brexit.
It includes phasing out land ownership-based subsidies over a seven-year period up to 2027 and replacing them with a new Environmental Land Management System (ELMS) whereby growers are paid for “public goods”, such as creating better air and water quality, soil health and higher animal standards.
However, ahead of the Bill’s second reading the NFU stressed that it must recognise the important role of farming and the many services it provides the nation, including food, plants and flowers, energy and environmental management.
The NFU said the Bill should:
- Promote the nation’s strategic priorities by supporting domestic agriculture to ensure food security.
- Promote improvements in the competitiveness and financial resilience of farm businesses, helping farmers to better manage risk and periods of poor market returns.
- Establish a multi-annual budgetary framework that provides certainty for farmers and allows them to plan and invest for the future.
- Value and protect British farming’s high production, animal welfare and environmental standards.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “The Agriculture Bill offers the government a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of farming policy. A Bill that has an explicit and clear overarching agricultural focus, with food production at its heart, can ensure farmers continue to deliver sustainable food while maintaining our high environmental and animal welfare standards.
“As showcased during Back British Farming day, it is clear that British food and farming has overwhelming support from parliamentarians. We have seen it on countless occasions and today I am urging them to continue backing British farming by ensuring food production is at the heart of this Bill.
“British farmers and growers deliver the high-quality, traceable and affordable food that the British public expect and support. It is vital that a future policy enables British farmers to continue doing what they do best – producing food for the nation.”