Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:25 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Jim Egan:

From my perspective, one shortcoming is that the current system does not allow fully integrated environmental and farming management. It does not let the whole lot sit together, which causes issues. One of the biggest shortcomings of the current system is its administration in my specialised area, agri-environment schemes, which will put people off, as it has in the past. I do not really want to go much further than that, Minister. There are lots of things, but that is my area of expertise.

In terms of modifying in the short term, my personal view would be not to, particularly on countryside stewardship. I do a lot of work directly with farmers on getting stewardship schemes in, and I have never seen so much demand as this year. I already have 65 people on my books wanting to do the modified schemes. There are obviously things pushing them towards that, but the simplification of the actual stewardship process has been good. We just need to get the payments and other things right in the short term, to provide certainty.

If I was going to modify anything within the wider BPS system, I would perhaps modify the three-crop rule, so I could say that we had done something. However, I think people are used to it, and it is actually very important, in a time of turbulence, that we keep it as stable as we can at the moment.

Sorry; what was your third question?