I start by drawing the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. This is a historic moment for British agriculture, and I warmly welcome certainty and clarity for the sector regarding the shape of future agreements that the Bill provides. Certainty is as vital for agriculture as it for any other business sector. That is highlighted by the proposals for a seven-year transition period, beginning in 2021, between CAP and the new policy, which will provide farmers with much-needed time to refashion their business models and plan for the future. The transition period is longer than predicted, which must be welcomed, and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the progressive evolution of the sector rather than the cliff-edge revolution that was once discussed.
I also welcome the phasing out and delinking of basic payments, including lump-sum payments, to assist farmers in diversification or exiting the market, including through funding retirement, thereby supporting new entrants to the sector. Proposals to encourage new blood into agriculture should be promoted enthusiastically.