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UK's landmark Agriculture Bill becomes law

With this Act, the British Government intends, in the context of Brexit, to boost the agri-food industry "after years of inefficient and excessively bureaucratic policy dictated to farmers by the EU."

11/11/2020

Unitec Kingdom's field.

The British Government's landmark agriculture bill was presented to the UK Parliament in January this year, providing a boost to the industry "after years of inefficient and overly bureaucratic policy dictated to farmers by the EU."

According to UK DEFRA, "The bill will strengthen our farmers and land managers, and ensure that we can adequately reward them for the good work they do. The bill will help farmers stay competitive, increase productivity, invest in new technology and seek a fairer return on the market. "

Starting next year, farmers will have a seven-year transition period to adapt to a new farming system. More details will be announced at the end of November.

The Farm Bill sets out how farmers and land managers in England will in the future be rewarded with public money for 'public goods', such as better air and water quality, thriving wildlife, soil health or measures to reduce flooding and address the effects. of climate change, under the Environmental Territorial Planning scheme. These incentives will provide a powerful vehicle to achieve the goals of the government's 25-year Environmental Plan and our commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

This new system will replace the "poorly targeted" Basic Payment Scheme subsidy system, which largely pays farmers for the total amount of cultivated land and has skewed payments towards the largest owners, rather than rewarding farmers. for any specific public benefit.

At the same time, the bill includes measures designed to help our farmers and land managers increase their productivity and ultimately maximize our land's potential to produce high-quality food in a more sustainable way.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our historic Farm Bill will transform the way we support farmers. The funds released as a result of the phasing out of the inherited Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be reinvested in an implementation of our future agricultural policy, which will focus on support aimed at incentivizing sustainable agricultural practices, creating habitats for the recovery of the nature and supporting the establishment of new forests and other ecosystem services to help address challenges such as climate change. We will support farmers to reduce costs and improve profitability, to help those who want to retire or leave the industry to do so with dignity, and to create new opportunities and support for new entrants entering the industry. "

The government will now be able to further advocate for food production by improving transparency and equity in the supply chain from farm to fork, as well as keeping our world-famous food producers competitive and innovative by investing in the latest technology. and research.

The government will also report on UK food safety to Parliament every three years. The first report will be published at the end of next year and will include an analysis of the food supply impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a wide range of topics including global food availability, food security and consumer confidence. consumer.

In order to spend more of the annual budget for agriculture on increasing productivity and environmental benefits, Direct Payments will be phased out during an agricultural transition period, beginning with the Basic Payment Scheme year 2021 and running through the end of 2027. This annual budget for Support to Agriculture will be maintained throughout the years of this Parliament, providing certainty and stability before the transition to the new system.

This will allow farmers and land managers the time they need to adjust to the new approach and consider which component of the new environmental land management scheme will work best for their farm.

Farmers and land managers will also be able to apply for alternative support during this time, with productivity grants to be offered next year and with field management schemes that will remain open to new applications in the early years of the agricultural transition period, lo It will help farmers to springboard towards the next land environmental management plan.

More details on plans to support our farmers and land managers during the agricultural transition period will be published later this month.

What will the Farm Bill change for farmers?

The aim is to reform agricultural policy so that the interests of farmers and land managers, the environment and taxpayers are at the center of all decisions.

The Agriculture Bill will allow us to exit the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and implement a new system that rewards environmental improvement, improvements in animal welfare and the production of high quality food in a more sustainable way.

How does the Farm Law affect farmers?

We plan to phase out Direct Payments in England from 2021 to 2027. We will reduce payments fairly - for the first year, the largest reductions will apply to the highest pay bands.

Not before 2022, we plan to "unlink" Direct Payments from the requirement to cultivate the land. This will further simplify payments as we phase them out.

Farmers and land managers will still be able to enter into new field management agreements in the early years of the transition period. We encourage CS agreements as a viable long-term source of income to generate environmental benefits and excellent preparation for the next Environmental Land Management scheme.

Beginning in late 2024, there will be the opportunity to participate in Earth's new Environmental Management scheme to improve the environment and deliver public goods such as clean air and thriving plants and wildlife. We are working closely with stakeholders, including farmers and land managers to design the scheme, including through our current test and trial program, and since late 2021 through a national pilot. We will ensure that there is a smooth transition from the CS to the new scheme of land environmental management agreements.

Food producers will have better access to data to help them make more informed and market-driven decisions, leveling the playing field between food producers and the supply chain to protect both producers and consumers.

What's new in this bill compared to when the first bill was introduced in 2018?

The updated bill maintains our flagship policy of paying those who care for our land and animals for the provision of public goods, but now also includes an increased focus on food production. Environmentally friendly agriculture and food production can and should go hand in hand.

Food safety: we are imposing on the government a duty to report regularly to Parliament on food safety. This will include the crucial role of our domestic production along with supplying from a wide range of sources.

Soil quality - We know that soil is an essential asset for farmers and also provides a wealth of public goods. We have made sure that soil is included in the bill and that farmers can receive financial assistance to protect and improve its quality.

Financial Assistance Monitoring: The Secretary of State will periodically monitor, evaluate, and report on our financial assistance plans. This means that Parliament and our stakeholders will be able to examine how well the plans are working.

An animal traceability service: the powers to enable a new service provider, which will collect and better manage information related to the identification, movement and health of animals.

Fertilizer regulation: the power to effectively regulate this industry when we leave the EU.

Organic Products Regulation - Powers to adapt organic regulation so that it works for UK producers and we can continue to market organic products around the world.

When will the changes go into effect?

The changes will not be immediate. The seven-year transition period will begin in 2021 and continue until the end of 2027. The national pilot plan for the new Environmental Land Management scheme is expected to be open to participants by the end of 2021 with the program fully operational in 2024.


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