Farmers will boost productivity and protect the environment post-Brexit as the UK moves away from the 'bureaucratic' Common Agricultural Policy, the Defra Secretary has announced today.
Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Theresa Villiers confirmed that the agriculture bill will be introduced to parliament this month.
The bill will highlight how a new approach is to be adopted once the UK leaves the EU, where farmers and land managers are rewarded with public money for ‘public goods’.
At the same time, farmers will have 'greater opportunities' to boost their productivity, leading to 'more successful and resilient' farm businesses.
In England, there will be a seven-year transition period for farmers to plan and adjust for these changes, during which direct payments will be gradually phased out.
Throughout 2020, the government will be seeking views from farmers in England on how the future environmental land management (ELM) scheme can best work for them.
In her speech, Ms Villiers urged farmers to rethink agricultural policy for the first time in 40 years and to put forward any new proposals.
She said: “We want our new scheme to deliver value for money as well as boosting sustainable productivity to support farmers in their work of feeding the nation.
“Our proposals for Environmental Land Management will be one of the most important environmental reforms for 40 years.
“The process we are about to embark on will, I hope, provide an example to others around the world of what can be achieved if we rethink how we manage the land and produce our food.
“We have the potential to create a virtuous circle between agriculture, tackling climate change, protecting biodiversity, and securing investment in our rural economy.”
To provide support to farmers, the Environment Secretary guaranteed the current annual budget for farmers in every year of the parliament.
She confirmed the government’s commitment to protect British farming's standards, including animal welfare and environmental standards, as the UK leaves the EU.
In her speech, she added: “Our strong British food brand is built on the high standards to which we hold ourselves.
“We can maintain and indeed enhance UK standards as we negotiate new trading relationships with friends and neighbours in the EU and leading global economies.”