Today Rt Hon Michael Gove MP. Secretary of State for Food, Environment & Rural Affairs has set out his post-Brexit policy for a new Agricultural Bill in the UK.
The Agriculture Bill sets 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. This will replace the current subsidy system of Direct Payments, which is ineffective and pays farmers based on the total amount of land farmed.
In response to the announcement, Ash Amirahmadi, Managing Director, Arla Foods UK states;
We welcome the Government’s announcement of a new regime for British farming and are pleased that the Government has agreed to a seven year transition period to the new regime. This is what we called for in our submission to the Government consultation which preceded today’s announcement and will give certainty to farmers, allowing them to plan for the new environment. It is fantastic that so many of our farmer owners have contributed to the consultation and had their say.
We believe that properly structured farming policies and supports can deliver benefits for the environment and increase profitability and productivity in farming; therefore we are especially encouraged by the Government’s recognition that the overall objective of the new regime should be to secure “practical gains for farmers that help them become more profitable and reduce their environmental footprint”.
In that context, it will be important that the new Environmental Land Management system does not lead to incentives that only deliver public goods whilst neglecting innovation and increased productivity. We are therefore keen to understand the “measures to increase productivity and invest in R&D” that the Government has proposed.
What has been announced today sets out principles and a framework for the new regime. We look forward on behalf of our 2,400 UK farmer owners to working with Defra on the detail of the new agricultural landscape to come.