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Ministers must set up a body to advise farmers on how to follow post-Brexit rules

The Government is setting up several new bodies, including the OEP, but Ministers must establish an organisation to advise farmers on how to follow post-Brexit rules, says Conservative peer Anne McIntosh.

So as Britain has not yet left the EU, how can we use the extra time positively and constructively until October 31?

 

While farmers may feel they have been given a reprieve, they still crave certainty.

 

With the political turmoil at Westminster continuing, we would expect a Queen’s Speech by the third week of June, whether a general election is held or not.

 

Rumours are circulating that the centre piece of the legislative programme for the new parliamentary session will be the Environment Bill of which, as yet, Parliament has only seen a draft.

 

Cross-over

 

What should that Bill cover? There will be a strong cross-over to agriculture, as there will be in the remaining bills which have yet to reach the House of Lords on immigration and new trade deals.

 

There is a real need for a body to advise farmers on how the new farm policy and environmental land management schemes will affect them.

 

Access to ever decreasing funds, a proper and fuller definition of natural capital and what the role of the new body, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), will be need to be urgently clarified.

 

Otherwise the new schemes risk being opaque, obscure and lacking in transparency.

 

Responsibilities

 

I understand the OEP will be assuming the responsibilities previously performed by the EU Commission, ensuring Government compliance with the environmental principles and norms set out in EU directives, decisions and regulations which have now all been transposed onto English law.

 

What is missing, however, is one body to give farmers neutral and independent advice as to how they can best comply with new rules and regulations, yet continue to farm sustainably and profitably.

 

The bottom line is there must be a recognition of farming in the new environmental land management schemes and it should be the active farmers who are rewarded for doing what they do best, working in all weathers to produce food for our tables.

 

Relationship

 

The relationship between the Office for Environmental Protection and other bodies such as the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency will have to be clarified.

 

It is important the OEP is up and running in time for our leaving the EU to safeguard the environmental protections achieved under the EU.

 

Farmers and other businesses, whose work will be impacted by the OEP, need to know when it will be set up and become operational.

 

Government should strive to balance its role of policing the norms of environmental principles and encouraging farmers and others to safeguard our environment for future generations to enjoy.

 

Anne can be found tweeting at @AnneCMcIntosh


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