Agriculture Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:31 pm on 10th October 2018.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis Conservative, Banbury 5:31 pm, 10th October 2018

It is a great pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Derek Thomas. He started his speech with a very controversial statement, with which I think no Member of the House agreed, but I think that everybody will agree with me when I say that British food is the best in the world, and I think that our constituents would be pleased to agree that our prices are among the lowest in Europe. Although I have no financial interest in farming, I should declare that I am a hobby farmer—a continual irritant to the many generations of my family who farm properly for money. I therefore do not have an interest to declare in the register, but I do have the soil of Oxfordshire under my fingernails.

I feel extremely strongly that we must get this right. On the day after the referendum, my first worry was for the environment. In fact, as the previous Prime Minister was resigning, apparently I was muttering something about hedgerows. Whatever else we might think of our friends in Europe, we must admit that their farming lobbies have always been extremely strong.

I am a big fan of the Secretary of State, and of course of the Farming Minister—anyone who farms South Devons must be a great farmer. The Department has certainly got the environmental message, and I have confidence in its ability to make good decisions on the future of subsidies, but I urge both Ministers to make these decisions quickly. Stability and long-term planning are really important to farmers. Farms are not just businesses; they are somewhere to live, and they often provide work for the next generation. We need as much notice as possible of the direction of travel.

Other Members have spoken about the importance of workforce planning.