Clause 4 - Multi-annual financial assistance plans

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

It is a pleasure to follow Dave Doogan, just as I did after his maiden speech. May I say that he needs to allow a little more of his Scottish charm to seep into his speeches? I need to declare my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, particularly as a breeder of Hereford cattle. Some 88% of Herefordshire is farmland, and 10,200 people work on our 2,812 farms.

On amendments 12 and 16, let me say that farming is not a religion; it is a business. We need to increase farm incomes, cut NHS expenditure on obesity, lose the need for food banks, and ensure that we behave towards our livestock in the way that we behave towards one another: with respect, kindness and, most of all, understanding of the huge challenge all this presents. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Green party, Extinction Rebellion and many others have their own agendas on how to run the landscape, so their contribution is not surprising, but the NFU’s is surprising, because it has gone far too far in trying to wrongly frighten people. We must remember that the Agriculture Bill is primarily a continuation Bill. The amendments would put strict conditions in place when the EU negotiates a free trade deal, whereas when we, as part of the EU, negotiated free trade deals with other countries, none of those restrictions were in place. If we impose strict food requirements, America will challenge and win at the WTO. Opposition Members may rejoice at that, but the EU will not be able to accept those terms either.