Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:12 pm on 25th October 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Helen Browning:

The areas where I am still unclear in terms of the public good section is whether we are really focusing enough on soil. We talk about land; we do not talk about soil. We talk about natural culture or natural heritage; we do not talk about wildlife and biodiversity. We need to be a little more specific about some of those areas. Given that we do not yet have any sense of what might happen in other places around a food plan, I would like to see public health mentioned within the Bill as a public good. That would be very helpful.

There is an interesting split: there are some provisions for the support of public goods, and those are very welcome, although they need to be expanded. We then also have a lot around productivity, which could be helpful, but again the devil is in the detail in terms of how we are lining up and looking at those productivity measures.

Are we looking at the environmental and social impacts of what we are doing when we talk about productivity? How do we define that? We need to make sure that we are not setting up some new great initiatives in one place, maybe on the fringes of the field, but not thinking about the overall industry and how it will operate, and how we are going to green the whole of farming and the food system over the next 20 years.

There are still some improvements that need to be made, but, as I say, it is the way this will be interpreted, particularly the definition of what we mean by productivity, that we need to look at hard.