Clause 4 - Multi-annual financial assistance plans

Part of Agriculture Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Chair, Committee of Selection, Chair, Committee of Selection, Chair, Committee of Selection 8:00 pm, 12th October 2020

I do not get any extra minutes for that intervention. I ask Members also to think about our stocking density for chickens, which is 39 kg per square metre, as opposed to 42kg in the EU. German hop growers use chemicals that would not be allowed in this country, and apparently the French will give a derogation for neonicotinoids so that their farmers can produce oilseed rape. That is outrageous. Where are the objections to buying Danish bacon? Where are the people kicking off to protect our pig farmers? My hon. Friend Neil Parish is absolutely right: when we did the right thing, we were decimated.

I want us to achieve everything that my hon. Friend the Minister talked about. We should have proper food standards and better labelling. The people we should be putting our faith in are the consumers. They do not want hormone beef; they want to know that what they are buying is good, clean and proper, and they are grown up enough to make their own decisions.

There is room for everybody. We produce 61% of food eaten in this country and 75% of that which we are able to grow here. The remainder—more than £47 billion-worth—is all imported. We have the capacity to pay our farmers more, import from international markets without substitution for lower standards, and ensure that we produce the best and healthiest food at a cost-effective price.

The Prime Minister has called on us to find the inner, or thinner, hero inside us and shed those pounds. That is spot on. If we can lower the price of healthy food in this country, we could not only see our nation lose weight but address the need for food banks. With better food prices, innovation can progress in the agricultural sector, and we can have what we always wanted: farmers receiving public money for public goods.

I want the Minister to commit to ensuring that farm incomes grow on the back of the environmental land management scheme, and not be diminished. I want the Bill to allow us to protect the environment and produce food, while ensuring that our food producers’ incomes rise, consumers buy healthier food and the need for food banks goes. These amendments will not achieve those goals or what our great farmers, consumers, constituents and future trading partners want: prosperity and a better diet.