Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gove prepares to unveil farm bill by end of July

June 29, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

Defra secretary Michael Gove will outline the government’s plans for farming post-Brexit in an Agriculture Bill expected to be published before the end of this month.

Mr Gove made the announcement while giving evidence to the MPs on the House of Commons Select Committee. If he sticks to the timetable, it means the Agriculture Bill will be published up to six months earlier than previously expected.

Mr Gove told MPs that civil servants were working their way through 44,000 responses that were submitted to the government’s Health and Harmony consultation on the government’s proposals for farming. He said: “I hope that the bill will be published before the recess – that is our aim.”

Shortcomings

Acknowledging problems around Defra schemes such as countryside stewardship, Mr Gove said he hoped things would improve over the coming months as the government took action to address shortcomings.

Earlier, the committee called on the government to ring-fence funding for farming post-Brexit, provide much greater details on its new support mechanisms for farmers, and ensure environmental and welfare standards are maintained on products entering Britain.

Committee chairman Neil Parish said: “A new funding model for agriculture is essential for the future prosperity of UK farming. As we leave the EU we must ensure that we maintain our standards, and that those importing into the UK meet our high standards of production.”

Funding the future

The government should commit to funding the future agricultural policy using ring-fenced funds, consider new support mechanisms such as tax breaks and capital grant support, ensure that imported food products meet UK standards, and avoid a regulatory race to the bottom.

The warning follows an committee inquiry into the government’s proposals for agriculture. Withdrawing direct payments will have a varied impact between sectors, and particularly damaging effects will be felt by grazing livestock, cereal and mixed farms, it says.

The committee’s report calls on the government to produce a thorough sectoral assessment of these impacts to identify support for small and medium-sized farms and should commit to ring fencing the funds released to fund the rural economy and environment.

“Defra’s consultation is ambitious and we welcome much of its intent,” said Mr Parish. But he added: “There is a notable lack of detail in the government’s paper, however, and we seek more clarity on funding, delivery, and timing.”

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