Defra Secretary Michael Gove will promise to invest in improved training and education for people working in agriculture in his speech to NFU conference today.
Mr Gove has been keen to point out Government cash will only be given to the sector in exchange for ‘public goods’ after the UK leaves the EU.
In this latest speech, he will reiterate his belief that environmental protection is the most important of all the public goods to be funded, but outline some other things farmers can be expected to be paid for in future.
He will say: “I believe we have to ensure future methods of agricultural support recognise how critical it is to value the culture in agriculture.
“Devon and Somerset would not be as they are - with the countryside as beautiful as it is and communities as resilient as they are - without dairy farmers.
“Cumbria and Northumberland, Yorkshire’s Dales and Pennine Lancashire would not be as they are - both as breathtakingly beautiful and as resilient - without upland farmers.
“Men and women are hefted in those hills just as much as the sheep they care for. And preserving profitable farm businesses in those communities is just as much a public good as investment in anything I know.
“I also believe investing in higher animal welfare standards and investing in improved training and education for those in agriculture and food production are clear public goods.
“We have a high baseline for animal health standards, which we will continue to enforce. However, we could also support industry-led initiatives to improve these standards, especially in cases where animal welfare remains at the legislative minimum.
“This may include pilot schemes that offer payments to farmers delivering higher welfare outcomes, or payments to farmers running trial approaches and technologies to improve animal welfare that are not yet an industry standard.”
Access to the countryside
One other public good to be identified by Mr Gove will be public access to the countryside.
While he will make clear the Government will not be encouraging people to ‘ride or walk roughshod through working areas’, he will suggest there would be greater understanding of the need to value and support the work of farmers if the public was more connected to the countryside.
It is not clear whether this drive to encourage more people into rural areas will be accompanied by a public education campaign about how to behave in the countryside.
It is estimated a third of the global population work in agriculture - making it the single largest employer in the world.
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