Amendment 130

Part of Agriculture Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 3:00 pm on 21st July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Northbrook Lord Northbrook Conservative 3:00 pm, 21st July 2020

My Lords, I declare my interest as an arable farmer and landowner in receipt of BPS. Before I come to the amendments, I want to defend the RPA after the swipe at it by my noble friend Lord Caithness. What he said might have been true some years ago, but I pay tribute to the Minister for its much improved status over recent years, although it will clearly have its work cut out with the new regime.

The Bill establishes a framework for phasing out direct payments over seven years. It is highly likely that payments under the ELM schemes will result in significant reductions in net income, especially for cattle and sheep farmers, whether in less favoured or lowland areas, and delays in its introduction until 2024 will have a serious effect. Hence, I support Amendment 149, in the names of the noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington, and the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, but would extend it to certain smaller lowland cattle and sheep farmers. I also strongly support Amendment 144, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, believing that interim financial assistance measures need to be given to these sectors of farming in particular.

I do not support Amendment 130, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, as he did not really mention the effect it would have on farmers, which could be serious—in fact, I do not think he mentioned farmers at all—but I do support Amendment 143, which proposes a delay in the start of the transition period, and appreciate my noble friend Lord Trenchard’s support, even though he is on the Brexiteer side. I also support the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about the lack of detail on the progress of the BPS reduction after year one. I also ask, like my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering, whether a new set of countryside stewardship schemes will be forthcoming in the autumn.