Michael shares this latest news on behalf of the Country Land and Business Association. Ed
The CLA has told an influential group of MPs that a commitment for a long-term budget incorporated into the Agriculture Bill is essential to achieving the Government’s aspirations for farming and the environment.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer gave evidence earlier this week (Wednesday) to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee as part of the committee’s scrutiny of the Agriculture Bill.
Confidence from funding needed to adapt
He explained that certainty on funding beyond the Government’s existing commitment to 2022 will provide farmers and landowners with the confidence to adapt their businesses and engage constructively in the Bill’s new policies such as payment for public goods.
Mr Breitmeyer said:
“We fully support the Government’s aspirations for a profitable farming sector that also provides a range of public goods for society, from enhancing the environment, including the multiple benefits from sustainable soil and water management, to the highest standards of animal welfare.
“But farmers and land managers need to be able to plan ahead, and adapting their businesses based on new Government policy feels precarious without this commitment to funding the policies beyond 2022.”
The committee also heard from the CLA that:
- The transition period must avoid cliff edges for farm businesses by ensuring that reductions in acreage-based payments are carefully managed, and with the strict proviso that replacement schemes are already in place and ready for landowners and farmers to begin delivering outputs and receiving proper levels of payment. Many farmers are making financial commitments now for 2022/2023, but without the much-needed certainty from Government about how acreage-based payments will be reduced and whether the new public goods scheme will be underway.
- Spending to support improvements in farm productivity should begin now, particularly on advice, skills training and investment support. This should be supported by capital allowances to encourage construction of on-farm infrastructure. The underspend on current stewardship schemes should be reallocated to productivity spending.
Supporting farms’ stability and productivity vital
Mr Breitmeyer said:
“Only profitable farms will be in a position to deliver wider public goods, and so supporting their stability and productivity must not be a secondary concern to environmental aspirations.
“We are pleased that Government has been listening to the industry on this important point, but now is the time to substantiate good intentions with detail and funding.”