Asking farmers to build on their progress and go even further to protect the countryside is the right thing to do, but they must be given as much support as possible from Government to get the job done, says High Peak MP Robert Largan.
Farmers play a crucial role in managing and conserving the landscapes that define the British countryside.
They are the vital custodians of our nation’s natural heritage.
Brexit means we can do more to recognise the vast contribution made by our farmers.
In High Peak, we have so many fantastic farmers producing delicious food and protecting our beautiful part of the world.
I have been fully engaged with local farmers like Derbyshire National Farmers’ Union and the Hope Valley Farmers Group to listen to their concerns and support them where I can.
The new system of public money for public goods will open up exciting opportunities for the country.
It will encourage new ideas to promote sustainable food production, environmental protection, access to the countryside, flood defences, and animal welfare.
There will be certainty for farmers as the Government begins to phase out Direct Payments over seven years, starting in 2021.
The Environment Land Management (ELM) scheme will begin its rollout in 2024.
Ministers will be unveiling their plans for the agricultural transition period this autumn, and I am prepared to put pressure on the Government to ensure farmers get the help they need.
Farming is a fundamental part of our economy. It contributes £120 billion a year, supporting 4 million jobs.
The Government has a responsibility to lighten the burden for farmers so they can focus on delivering essential environmental benefits.
That is why I welcome the decision to cut red tape for farmers after 2021 as part of the transition to the new scheme.
It is also important that farmers can compete on a level playing field under future trade deals.
That is why I rebelled and refused to vote with the Government on an amendment to the Agriculture Bill, sending a message to Ministers that food safety, animal welfare, and environmental protection must not be compromised.
The Government has listened and announced a Trade and Agriculture Commission, bringing together retailers, unions, consumers, hospitality, and environmental stakeholders.
This includes the English, Scottish and Welsh branches of the National Farmers’ Union, the Ulster Farmers’ Union, and the Farmers’ Union of Wales.
The Commission will report to the Department for International Trade with advice on how best to secure opportunities for British farmers, protect the interests of consumers, and engage with the World Trade Organisation.
When the report is formally presented to Parliament, I will be ready to scrutinise it carefully.
Asking farmers to build on their progress and go even further to protect the countryside is the right thing to do.
In return, farmers deserve as much support as possible from Government to get the job done.
This means delivering a smooth transition and fair trade after Brexit.
Robert can be found tweeting at @robertlargan