This week saw a landmark day in agricultural law, with the passing through Parliament of the Agriculture Bill.
Previously dictated to by the EU, this, the first Agriculture Bill since 1947, promises to help farmers stay competitive, increase productivity, invest in new technology and seek a fairer return from the marketplace. Embedded in the new legislation is the mechanism to help the government achieve their 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
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 under a new Environmental Land Management scheme.
In addition to the environment and climate change, the Government’s focus is also on improving UK food security through boosting farm productivity and sustainability as well as encouraging new entrants into the industry with associated support measures.
Beginning next year, farmers will have a seven-year transition period to adapt to a new agricultural system and the current BPS payments will be phased out completely. Funds will be made available to incentivise farmers through productivity grants and the continuance of the Countryside Stewardship scheme, which is planned to remain open for the first few years of the transition period, starting next year.
It is important that farmers explore the various new measures over the transition period to help their businesses adapt and discover which parts of the new Environmental Land Management scheme might work on their farm.