The Government has confirmed its new ‘landmark’ Agriculture Bill is now law. According to Defra, The Bill will help farmers stay competitive, increase productivity, invest in new technology and seek a fairer return from the marketplace.
Starting next year, farmers will have a seven-year transition period to adapt to a new agricultural system, with further details to be announced soon.
The Agriculture Bill sets out how farmers and land managers in England will be rewarded in the future with public money for ‘public goods’ – such as better air and water quality, thriving wildlife, soil health, or measures to reduce flooding and tackle the effects of climate change, under the Environmental Land Management scheme. These incentives will help towards achieving the goals of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, and their commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
This new system will replace the Basic Payment Scheme subsidy system, which largely pays farmers for the total amount of land farmed and has skewed payments towards the largest landowners, rather than rewarding farmers for any specific public benefits.
At the same time, the Bill includes measures designed to support farmers and land managers to boost their productivity, and ultimately maximise the potential of their land to produce high quality food in a more sustainable way.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our landmark Agriculture Act will transform the way we support farmers. The funds released as a result of the phasing out of the legacy Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be re-invested into a roll out of our future farming policy, which will be centred around support aimed at incentivising sustainable farming practices, creating habitats for nature recovery, and supporting the establishment of new woodland and other ecosystem services to help tackle challenges like climate change.
“We will support farmers in reducing their costs and improving their 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 coming in to the industry.”
The government will now be able to further champion food production by improving the transparency and fairness 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, said Defra.