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Agriculture Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:51 pm on 3rd February 2020.

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Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 6:51 pm, 3rd February 2020

My right hon. Friend is right, and I am looking forward to seeing that in the Bill. As we leave the CAP and develop our own agriculture policy, we will have an opportunity not only to enhance the environment, increase biodiversity, plant more trees, and so on, but to look at the efficiency of our production and livestock breeding—for example, by introducing native breeds and cross breeding in order to deliver that very high quality. On crop production, let us use genome technology and everything that is there so that we can produce lots of food.

It is also important, as we look to managing our landscape in the future, that we seek to enhance our hedgerows and field margins, but we must ensure good production where we have very good fertile land. One thing that worries me about our policies going forward is that it is very much at the high end of food production, and that is great, but much of the population also like to enjoy good-quality chicken meat that is produced intensively but is also very reasonably priced. We produce intensively reared chicken in this country according to very high standards, and I do not want us to phase out production in this country and then import that type of meat from other countries where it is produced much more intensively. Likewise with cereals: we must make sure that the types of crop protection used to produce cereals that we import are also available to our farmers. If we do not, all we will do is export our livestock and our poultry and pig production.

This is an important Bill, and it contains much that is to be recommended. However, we must be careful to ensure that as we enhance the environment and our biodiversity we also increase production. We have an opportunity now to produce more food in this country and to be more self-sufficient.