Cultivating the Agriculture Bill for UK farmers
On 16 January, it was announced that food production and security would become a priority in the long-awaited Agriculture Bill.
The new measures require the Government to report regularly on food security to parliament, including factors such as where food comes from, how available it is and the resilience of the food chain.
This has been largely welcomed by farmers who have been looking for Government commitment to support food production in the UK in future.
Peter Snodgrass, partner in our Stratford office and agriculture specialist at the firm, commented on what the revisions mean for UK farmers:
“The Bill’s arrival signals a renewed focus on agriculture, which will no doubt please UK farmers, especially given the recent political turbulence, which could have delayed the introduction of the Bill.
“The proposed requirement that the Government will have to report regularly to Parliament on food security may be a confidence booster for those farmers worried that food production was being sidelined in favour of other activities. Most farmers want to produce food and the Bill reassures that this is still a priority, underpinning the UK’s future food security.
“This intent from Government should go hand-in-hand with high standards expected for animal welfare and the environment. When future trade deals are struck with non-EU countries, the UK must ensure that overseas producers meet the same stringent criteria as their domestic counterparts.
“Changes to subsidy payments based on management of land areas (in ‘good agricultural and environmental condition’) were inevitable given the UK’s exit from the EU – and even within the EU they are due to decline – and most of the proposals in the Bill aren’t a surprise. One mooted point which needs further clarification relates to farmers being able to take a one-off lump sum payment, in place of the annual payments, which are to continue until 2027. Doing this could give farmers the working capital to push through larger investment programmes, or to plan more effectively for their retirement, for example.”