Examination of Witnesses

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

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David Baldock:

As you said, the Bill does not spell out how the policy would work. We are all wondering how that might operate, and there have been some indications in a separate paper. This is clearly a source of uncertainty at the moment; you have powers with less specificity about how they are used. In principle, the public goods frame provides a good framework for delivering the right outcomes in the uplands or elsewhere, but it would be helpful to spell out how that will be met and how the local dynamics, which Terry talked about, can be matched with national objectives as well. If we look at the implications of the 1.5 degree target for the UK and for the world, we find that agriculture will have to make pretty significant changes over the next 20 years to the way soil carbon is managed and to the way energy is used in agriculture. That means that you need some strategic vision of where agriculture and land management are going, and you need to spell that out in a series of objectives a bit more clearly so that we do not have a slightly random selection of public goods that are produced according to local whims. I very much support the bottom-up approach, but that must be balanced by some quite clear strategic goals—we know we have them, but they have not been incorporated in a way we can see yet.