The Queen’s Speech has revealed Government plans to bring forward an Agriculture Bill in the next two years.
The Bill will ensure a system is in place to support UK farmers and protect the natural environment as the UK leaves the Common Agricultural Policy, but amendments could be tabled which push for wider change as the legislation passes through Parliament.
There is a promise to ‘consult widely’ with the devolved administrations on the new measures.
A Customs Bill to give the UK its own customs regime, a Trade Bill to allow Britain to negotiate deals around the world and an Immigration Bill to control migration will also be relevant to farming, on top of the Great Repeal Bill which will ‘lift and shift’ EU regulations into UK law.
CLA president Ross Murray said the extensive list of Brexit Bills ‘brings home the scale of the job involved’.
“Getting Brexit right for farming is of fundamental importance to the rural economy and we welcome the fact it will be subject to detailed scrutiny during the passage of a dedicated Agriculture Bill”, he added.
“We will press for this Bill to deliver absolute certainty for farmers that the current system of support will continue funding at current levels for at least five years.
“The Bill provides an opportunity to improve significantly the extensive and complex administrative systems required to deliver payments for schemes from farm support to environmental stewardship.
“It is also an opportunity for Parliament to discuss the future direction of policy and we look forward to providing leadership to those discussions.
“The Immigration Bill is a chance for Government to provide clarity on how it will ensure businesses across the rural economy have access to the workers they need.”
NFU president Meurig Raymond said the union would work closely with the new Defra Secretary and his team, but if British farming is to be successful in future the support of the whole parliament would be necessary.
“This is the right opportunity to embed the long-term strategic importance of the farming sector for the nation”, he added.
“The Repeal Bill will be a long and complex process to lift EU law in UK law. As this work goes on we will be maintaining our core asks of Government to ensure British farming has the right legislative framework in place to support a productive, profitable and progressive food and farming sector.”
Richard Hebditch, external affairs director at the National Trust, said Ministers should use the Bill to make clear what kind of benefits they want public money to pay for in the future to allow those managing land to plan ahead.