Agriculture Bill becomes law

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The Agriculture Bill, which sets out plans for UK’s farming after Brexit, was passed into law today.

The Agriculture Bill sets out the replacement of the subsidy regime provided through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy with a new Environmental Land Management scheme, where farmers and land managers in England will be rewarded for delivering ‘public goods’, such as as better air and water quality, soil health, or measures to reduce flooding and tackle the effects of climate change.

Environment Secretary George Eustice commented on the announcement: “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.”

Beginning next year, farmers will have a seven year transition period to adapt to a new agricultural system, with further details to be announced in late November.

Direct Payments will be phased out over an agricultural transition period, starting with the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme year and running until the end of 2027.

This will allow farmers and land managers the time they need to adapt 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 on offer next year and with Countryside Stewardship schemes remaining open to new applications in the first few years of the agricultural transition period, which will help farmers to springboard into the upcoming Environmental Land Management scheme.

With the new Act, the government will also report on UK food security to Parliament every three years.

The first report will be published at the end of next year, and will include analysis of the impacts on food supply of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a wide range of themes including global availability of food, food safety and consumer confidence.

The Bill was introduced to Parliament in January this year.