Agriculture Bill moves forward with return to Lords

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THE NEW Agriculture Bill is back in the House of Lords for the next stage in its journey to becoming law.

Defra Lords Minister Lord Gardiner will be leading several sittings of the whole house as part of the Bill’s Committee stage, expected to take place over the next two weeks.

Defra Minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble commented on the news: “The Agriculture Bill is just the beginning of our journey to deliver a once-in-a generation transformation in the way that we farm our land and produce the food that we eat.

“We will put our farmers and land managers at the heart of that journey.

“This Bill will allow us to support them by rewarding protection and enhancement of the environment, while enabling their businesses to prosper by continuing to produce outstanding British food and drink to be enjoyed in the UK and abroad.

“I am delighted to move this Bill forward and I look forward to working with parliamentary colleagues to move ever closer to writing it into law.”

Last week, the government also announced it will establish a Trade and Agriculture Commission, which will ensure that ‘the UK’s trade policy fully considers our agricultural industry and our commitment to maintain the UK’s high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards.’

The Bill was first introduced to the House of Commons on 16 January to deliver on the government’s manifesto commitments to ensure a smooth and gradual transition away from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy.

The Bill sets out plans for a new land management system, where farmers are rewarded with public money for public goods, such as improving air and water quality and providing habitats for wildlife.

At the same time, it will help to ‘boost productivity and maximise the potential of land for producing high quality food in a more sustainable way.’

During the Committee stage of the Bill, peers will have the opportunity scrutinise the legislation line–by–line, as well as consider any amendments tabled by peers following the Second Reading earlier this month.

A spokesperson added: “The government remains confident that the Agriculture Bill will reach Royal Assent in time to begin our transition towards a new, fairer agricultural system in England as planned in 2021.”