NFU North West Regional Director David Hall said: “The Agriculture Bill is the most important piece of legislation to come before Parliament for UK farming, particularly in England, for many decades.
“In the next two days I want to see as many farmers as possible in the region writing to our North West based MPs, making appointments for one of their constituency survey sessions, joining their local MP’s zoom calls and talking about the issues the Agriculture Bill presents on social media.
“It is essential that environmental, animal welfare and safety standards of UK food production are not undermined in any future trade policy, to ensure that the food we see on our supermarket shelves meets the same standards British farmers are proud to produce to.
“The Report stage of the Agriculture Bill on 13 May is a key opportunity to shape the legislation. Over recent weeks, and sparked into action by Coronavirus, the need for a resilient food supply that meets high standards has been demonstrated.
“The Agriculture Bill will result in the biggest reform and transformation of British agriculture since 1945 and we want to ensure that every MP appreciates the importance of a strong agricultural sector delivering high quality food for Britain.”
NFU members should visit this NFU online tool to email their MP and ask them to join the Report Stage debate on Wednesday and speak up for farmers.
The NFU has five important requests of Government and would like to see the following included in the Bill.
1) Food Security: Government will be required to report on food security every five years, the NFU says this should happen every year with requirements relating to domestic production food security and commitments to prevent any decline in self-sufficiency.
2) Joined up trade and farm policy: Government must ensure that future trade deals require agricultural imports to meet our environmental, animal welfare, and food safety standards with a Trade and Standards Commission to monitor this.
3) Resilient farming: Government intervention in the market should be strengthened to take account of ‘significant’ disturbances, Basic Payment Scheme phase out should be delayed for at least a year.
4) Support for the production of food: This welcome provision could be strengthened by an explicit requirement that any financial assistance scheme is designed to encourage the sustainable production of food by producers in England.
5) An ‘agricultural’ Agriculture Bill: The Agriculture Bill should focus specifically on agriculture, underpinning a farming model in the UK that is sustainable, productive and plays an active role in delivering food production and public goods.
NFU North West Regional Management Board Chairman Alistair Mackintosh added: “The Agriculture Bill’s passage also now coincides with one of the most serious crises our nation has faced in a generation in the form of the Coronavirus, which has focused minds on the critical, but often overlooked, issue of food security.
“With the longer-term challenge of climate change equally relevant to agricultural policy, it has never been more important for government, parliament, farmers and other stakeholders to work together to get this Bill right.”