Clause 4 - Multi-annual financial assistance plans

Part of Agriculture Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 12th October 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 7:00 pm, 12th October 2020

It is great pleasure to follow Luke Pollard and to speak in this debate. I say clearly that I shall be supporting amendments 2, 12 and 16 tonight and I will explain why.

This Agriculture Bill goes exactly in the right direction. As we have left the common agricultural policy, we can now move in a more environmental direction. We can bring in much more rotation of crops and go back to traditional types of farming. We can reduce nitrates and pesticides, plant more trees, capture carbon in more grassland, have more grass-fed beef and lamb, and produce poultry and pigs to very high standards. We are reducing all the time the amount of antibiotics used, and we are creating a much greater and better product. Animal welfare is at the centre of our production.

I welcome the fact that our farmers have produced such excellent food throughout this pandemic, and I pay tribute to the food processing industry, which is worth £120 billion to this country. It is the largest manufacturing industry in this country and 60% of the food that is processed is produced in this country under very high standards. So the whole direction of the Bill is right, it has to be the case and I very much support it and the way that we go. It gives us the independence and sovereignty to do it. Likewise, we now have the sovereignty to develop, argue for and produce our own trade deals. So why are we not a great beacon of animal welfare and the environment as we negotiate these trade deals? We have in our manifesto a commitment both on animal welfare and the environment. Would it not be right for the Secretary of State for International Trade to have the armour of Parliament’s backing to say, “I can’t negotiate away that particular part of the deal with you because it is written down in law”?