The Agriculture Bill returns

Ian Jelley

On Wednesday 13th May 2020 the Agriculture Bill makes a return to the Parliament for its Commons Report Stage.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is really pleased to see the return of this Bill which will pave the way for new laws relating to agriculture. Approximately 70% of Warwickshire is agricultural land and we recognise the vital role farmers can play in nature and our climate’s recovery.

We work alongside farmers to help make space for nature through our Arden Farm Wildlife Network which covers over 9,500 hectares of land. In addition, through our partnership project with Severn Trent we engage farmers in the Upper Avon and Leam river catchments, working with countless more on natural flood management and grazing projects throughout the county. We know that farming policy can provide the catalyst to kick start nature’s recovery and we are ready to support farmers in the transition which will take place.

Dunchurch Meadow Tractor with bales Karl Curtis

Karl Curtis

The focus in the Bill on rewarding farmers for ‘public goods’ and delivering benefits to society for which the market cannot pay is welcome. This shift will enable farmers to restore the natural environment, alongside and through the production of healthy, sustainable and nutritious food, and will help support a green recovery after the impact of COVID-19.

We do, however, believe there are some areas where the Bill can be improved, and we have worked within the Wildlife Trust movement as part of the Greener UK coalition and Wildlife and Countryside Link to agree a common set of priorities for the Agriculture Bill.

In particular, the Bill needs to:

· Ensure that farmers in the UK are not undercut by imported food produced to lower standards;

· Require a long-term funding framework to be set at a scale required to help tackle the climate and environment emergency; and

· Provide for the development of a new regulatory framework for farming and land management in England.

We have contacted all of our local MP’s to ask them to support New Clause 2 on import standards, and Amendment 5 on setting budgets to achieve objectives.