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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:31 am on 11th February 2020.

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David Bowles:

Yes; the RSPCA, as I said earlier, is delighted that for the first time we have the opportunity to provide financial assistance to farmers. One of the things that is missing from the Bill—it says it in the explanatory notes, but it is not explicit—is that financial assistance should be given only to those above baseline standards. We had a system where farmers could have been paid even if they were doing things that were illegal. I do not want to replicate that in the new farm support system.

There are a lot of things that we would like the Government to introduce to give farmers a leg up—for instance, providing brushes for cattle, hoof-trimming for cattle to reduce lameness, rubber matting for cattle to give farmers a leg up to farm at higher welfare standards, and then giving them the opportunity to get money that is not provided by the marketplace, which is the difference between farming at higher welfare and what the marketplace delivers.

There is a whole range and suite of issues that could be gathered. The RSPCA is delighted that the Government are looking at them seriously, and we hope that some can be trialled in the next year.