George Eustice introduced the government’s Agriculture Bill to the Commons on 16th January. It is likely to become law in or around April, with codes of practice and further enabling legislation to follow. Clearly the government wants to remove the current requirement to farm land from subsidies paid. Furthermore, the government wants to de-link subsidies from production and instead pay for ‘public goods’, such as environmental benefits. We are told that the overall budget will remain the same, but whether this actually gets to working farmer’s pockets remains to be seen. The government is good at altering people’s behaviour with a financial incentive. So be prepared to change!
In particular, it seems inevitable that we will all be encouraged to a) release far less carbon (and other pollutants) into the atmosphere, and b) indeed to sequester far more of it onto our land, either direct into soils or into trees. We in FCG will be in the forefront of helping our clients to interpret the new rules when introduced, and to helping clients find opportunities that dovetail with their other farm and business objectives. Watch this space.
But UK farmers and food producers must be given a level playing field to work on. New trade deals cannot be made which allow foodstuffs (and other products) into the UK which would be illegal to produce here. Anything else is a betrayal. It would hardly be ‘taking back control’ to be forced to accept poorer quality foods – from the viewpoint of the end consumer as well as farmers.
Contact Charles at email@example.com or your local FCG office, to assess what implications proposed legislation will have on your business in the future.