Agriculture Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:44 pm on 10th October 2018.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:44 pm, 10th October 2018

I am sorry, but I will not. The NFU and environmental groups alike want a long-term funding solution so that the issue cannot be used as a political football down the road, and they are right. If the money is not there, we may end up with a fantastic environmentally friendly farming system but no farmers left to deliver it. That is why the Liberal Democrats advocate a 25-year funding plan, to fit alongside the Government’s existing 25-year environment plan, to maintain agriculture spending beyond 2022 to at least the current level.

Helping farmers to deliver public goods and improving the productivity and resilience of UK agriculture will mean releasing farmers from the burdens of bureaucracy, badly run payment agencies and, worst of all, insecurity. The Bill is therefore well-intentioned but inadequate. If we want a rich, diverse, beautiful and bountiful ecology, we need farmers to steward it and deliver it. If we want a better environment, we need farmers. Many of the words in the Bill are good, but the detail and the understanding of farming is lacking. It reads as if it has been written in Whitehall, not Westmorland. Could do better—must do better.