I draw attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Having spent a lifetime immersed in both the environment and farming—I grew up on a farm—this, for me, is a very exciting moment. It is an opportunity to rethink our land use policy. It is a chance to build on the health of our environment, from soil to water to air, and to set ourselves on track to produce healthy, sustainable food and reset the biodiversity gauge.
Given that a quarter of all agricultural holdings are in the south-west, producing a third of the nation’s beef and lamb, the proposals are really important for our farmers, too. They are possible only because we are leaving the EU, and they have become a reality because the Government are putting not just their aspirations, but their financial support behind this endeavour.
As other colleagues have mentioned, the Bill is very much a framework Bill, which provides the finances and the tools for us to transition out of the common agricultural policy and gives us the chance to have a dialogue in every relevant area. We can now design our own tailor-made approach and not be dictated to by 27 other countries in the joint system that we have been part of. That system has often not been suited to the UK, but to get the money—all £4 billion of it—our farmers and landowners have had to accept the system. Who would not? Who could blame them?