Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:46 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Ed Hamer:

We see a clear opportunity for improvement in clause 1(1), and we have tabled an amendment on agri-ecology. At the moment, the Bill replaces direct payments with environmental land management payments, which in their current form do not guarantee food production in addition to the delivery of public goods.

By contrast, the agri-ecology amendment would focus on holistic farming systems as opposed to set-aside or marginal conservation measures. To give you an example, the payment identified under ELM would pay farmers for income forgone on the field boundaries, whereas in the middle of the field they could continue to spray pesticides or cease farming altogether. With the agri-ecology amendment, the integration of whole farm agriculture and agri-ecological principles would incentivise farmers to produce food on the field in addition to introducing ecological focus areas or diversity around field edges. Under the agri-ecological amendment, it is the farming system itself that delivers the public good.