Examination of Witnesses

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

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Graeme Willis:

In terms of the breadth of it, I think it is still open to question as to how wide it goes. I am on the stakeholder engagement group, so I am limited in what I can say because of confidentiality about that. However, I have certainly seen a slide that shows how wide it might go, and there might be questions around whether it includes, for example, airport operators, which have large tracts of open grassland that they need to manage to keep trees off. Could they do positive things with that?

I think there is a very important question about the amount of resource available and whether those are the right people to receive that resource, as against farmers, given the context we talked about, the viability issues going forward and the cuts to basic payments during the transition. However, something to address the issues across a broad landscape is very important.

On whole-farm areas, we would not want large areas of farmland managed very intensively within a system in which other areas are just managed for public goods. I think they need to be combined and harmonised, as we said before, so that land is shared and used in the very best way, for the environmental benefits and for good, sustainable food production.