Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Professor Marsden:

To add another issue, on the question of how to improve the Bill, there is nothing in it about rural development, which is important. This is an opportunity to link multifunctional farming, which seems to be where we are heading, with rural development. I am suggesting not the development of a second pillar necessarily but, for example, for the recipients of financing and whatever funding there is not to be restricted to farmers alone. It could go to partnerships, place-based partnerships—some good pilots of which are going on in England and in Wales—and consortia of landowners and stakeholders in rural areas to work together.

That is the other shift we need—in the mentality of funding for public goods. Rural development forms a gap in that. One might argue that that could be left to whatever comes out of the shared prosperity fund. I am, though, concerned about that, because it might lead to concentrated dollops of funding—to cities mainly—and we really need much more distributed, bottom-up and facilitative funding for things like a post-Brexit LEADER programme.