Examination of Witnesses

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

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Vicki Hird:

We do not have a position on that—it would be hard for me to say whether we would advocate for grouse moors. I understand that clauses on active farmers, food producers and those gaining financial reward from production of goods from the land are being mooted. I think that would restrict the Bill somewhat and make it very inflexible in supporting systems that can do both in a very extensive way. I am not necessarily talking about grouse moors here; I suppose I am thinking more about extensive livestock in a system that has other huge benefits in carbon capture or tourism. If land is producing not a huge amount of food but a bit of food, and the Bill restricts that, that would not necessarily be a good thing.

The important distinction is that we would not be advocating payments purely for being a farmer on an acre basis. In answer to Sandy’s question as well as yours, we do not think that that would be a good outcome for farmers, the taxpayer or the environment. What is in the Bill is a skeleton, which needs to be built on, and we certainly think that there needs to be an extra clause relating to agri-ecological systems such as organic, to make sure that we can cover them and very small producers. You mentioned small producers. It is really important to get rid of the cut-off, because there are some very small, very productive producers who should benefit from any possible public good payment. I will leave it there.