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Agriculture Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:02 pm on 3rd February 2020.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 6:02 pm, 3rd February 2020

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point. In part, we want our grants for productivity and investment to help plug that gap. But we have to get on with this; we must make progress in transforming the way we support land management in this country. I am afraid the climate crisis is urgent.

Clause 11 contains provisions to introduce delinked payments during the transition, and where we can, and subject to constraints in the withdrawal agreement, we will introduce simplifications to the existing BPS scheme. Our transition to the new schemes opens the door to a fresh approach to the rules that we expect farmers to meet, as provided for in clause 9. We are determined to have a far more rational and proportionate approach to compliance than the inflexible CAP regime that we are leaving. For too long farmers the length and breadth of this country have had to put up with systems of inspection, compliance, and penalties that often seemed to defy logic or common sense. Outside the EU, we can do better.

Clauses 18 to 20 provide that in exceptional circumstances the Government can act to support farmers through significant market disturbances in England. Our farmers want to be competitive, collaborative, and innovative, and to negotiate effectively at the farm gate to get a fairer return. We are using the Bill as an opportunity to take further action, and to improve fairness in the agriculture supply chain.