Environment Secretary, Rt Hon. Theresa Villiers, has today introduced a new version of the Agriculture Bill into Parliament.
The legislation sets out how the new Environmental Land Management Scheme will replace the EU Common Agricultural Policy, and shift towards the principle of “public money for public goods”. This will see farmers and land managers in England receive payments for measures to improve biodiversity, air and water quality, animal welfare standards, access to the countryside or measures to reduce flooding.
This is a revised Bill after the first Agriculture Bill fell as a result of the General Election. This version requires a regular assessment of the UK’s food security by parliament to ensure minimal disruption to supplies after the country leaves the EU, and has a much stronger emphasis on protecting and restoring soil quality.
There is, however, no legal commitment to maintaining food standards when seeking future trade deals which has already attracted criticism from environmental and farming groups.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said:
Our landmark Agriculture Bill will transform British farming, enabling a balance between food production and the environment which will safeguard our countryside and farming communities for the future.
This is one of the most important environmental reforms for many years, rewarding farmers for the work they do to safeguard our environment and helping us meet crucial goals on climate change and protecting nature and biodiversity.
The new scheme will be phased in over seven years starting in 2021. Later in the transition period, the government plans to ‘delink’ Direct Payments from the requirement to farm the land.