Agriculture Bill, Second Reading, House of Commons, 3 February 2020

The Bill does not consider how this rural growth component fits into the proposed land management system, or how it will link to the forthcoming UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). This funding is too important to rural areas to fall through the gaps of the new system. We would recommend the Government clarify, through this legislation and guidance, how new growth funding arrangements will be incorporated into post-EU funding.

28 Jan 2020

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Agriculture Bill, Second Reading, House of Commons, 3 February 2020 

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Key messages

The Agriculture Bill is an opportunity to transform British farming, placing a new focus on the relationship between the agricultural industry and the environment. Councils are well placed to play a role in this reform. At a local level they can bring together partners to deliver leadership and direction on how best landscapes can be managed to meet need.

 

At the core of the Bill are provisions to replace the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) with a new payment system for farmers based around the concept of ‘public money for public goods’. It is essential that there is a smooth and phased transition towards the new system and we will work with the Government to ensure that the Bill is effective in addressing the concerns of rural communities.

 

Local government is a key stakeholder in the management of rural land. It works closely with farming communities and landowners on a range of land management issues, undertaking approximately 170 statutory duties across a wide range of interrelated areas. In addition, a number of councils’ own farms and agricultural land.

 

Through the rural growth component of the CAP (Pillar II), European funding has made a significant impact on the local economy. In particular, the LEADER programme, worth almost £20 million a year, and the Regional Growth Fund, have created critical opportunities for economic growth.

 

The Bill does not consider how this rural growth component fits into the proposed land management system, or how it will link to the forthcoming UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). This funding is too important to rural areas to fall through the gaps of the new system. We would recommend the Government clarify, through this legislation and guidance, how new growth funding arrangements will be incorporated into post-EU funding.

 

The Bill also sets out the powers the Secretary of State has to make interventions in the agricultural market in ‘exceptional market conditions. This focuses on making payments directly to farmers. It does not give the Secretary of State powers to fund a more comprehensive package of support through councils. This wording should be updated to reflect the important role councils can play in maintaining the local economy.

 

As the UK begins to trade with the EU as an external partner and seeks new trading relationships, the regulatory system for our agricultural products will come under increasing scrutiny. Councils have a key role in overseeing animal health and welfare and supporting agricultural businesses. To deliver this effectively, trading standards services will need greater resources.

 

Read the full briefing

Agriculture Bill, Second Reading, House of Commons, 3 February 2020 

Download the full Parliamentary report

 

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