Agriculture Bill: NFU calls for long-term policy funding

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The NFU is co-hosting a drop-in event in Parliament today (30 October) where farming and environmental groups will unite to call on the government to commit to long-term funding for the policies detailed in the new Agriculture Bill.

NFU President Minette Batters said:

“The NFU believes the Agriculture Bill offers the government a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of farming policy. It is crucial that this piece of legislation has food production at its heart, which will ensure farmers continue to deliver safe, traceable and affordable food while maintaining our high environmental and animal welfare standards.

"Farming is a long-term business and farmers need clarity on what their regulatory environment will look like now for the years ahead. A commitment from government in the Agriculture Bill that they will provide this certainty, through clear long-term funding, is essential.”

The NFU is co-hosting the event with the CLA, the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the National Federation of Young Farmers, the National Sheep Association, the Nature Friendly Farming Network, the Soil Association, the Tenant Farmers Association, and Greener UK, which represents a coalition of 13 environmental organisations including the National Trust, RSPB, Woodland Trust, WWF and The Wildlife Trusts.

Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove and Shadow Defra Secretary Sue Hayman are among the politicians expected to attend. They will be urged to support the organisations’ unified bid for the Agriculture Bill to establish a long term multi-annual budgetary framework, that delivers certainty for the rural economy and farming.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said:

“Good land management and profitable farming delivering a healthy environment requires long-term planning. The CLA fully supports government’s aspirations for a productive farming sector that also provides a range of public goods for society, but politicians must recognise that delivery of new policies in the Agriculture Bill will require change and investment by farms and landowners. Greater certainty on longer-term funding intentions will help provide the confidence needed to make these changes.”

Tenant Farmers Association national chairman, James Gray said:

“The aspiration to create a long-term policy for food, farming and the environment must be matched with a long-term commitment to funding. Having the right framework for a multi-annual budget must be a key component of the Agriculture Bill."

Woodland Trust chief executive Beccy Speight said:

“The Agriculture Bill provides an opportunity to break down the barriers that have artificially divided farming and forestry for so long but it is essential that it is amended to provide a long-term funding mechanism. Land managers need to have confidence in the new system that sufficient support will be forthcoming to back them in delivering key public goods like more resilient and biodiverse habitats, flood alleviation and healthy soils.”

Patrick Begg, outdoors and natural resources director at the National Trust, said:

“The National Trust supports the government’s plans for a new farming support system, focused on paying farmers to deliver public goods for which there is no market, but big public benefit, such as public access or improving nature. Many of these public goods like soil health and water quality are also critical to the long-term survival of food production. But if the government wants its new system to work, it must provide the certainty and security of long term, multi-annual budgets, based on an assessment of the costs of providing these goods, so that farmers can invest in the knowledge they will get a fair return for their efforts. This should be teamed with action in the supply chain to secure a better price for farmers at the farm gate.”