Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:13 pm on 11th February 2020.

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George Dunn:

I would take you back a little bit, Minister, and just say that we need to be really careful. Despite the fact that there is a great deal of criticism of the CAP, and the way in which the basic payment scheme operates and its impact on rents, we need to be clear that those payments are being received by individual farms right up and down the country that are doing the right things on the environment, animal welfare, consumer safety and all those issues. If we simply remove the BPS payment without properly thinking through the changes that we need to make, we risk the good work that we are doing. That is why we have been saying that we are making changes for a generation, and they need to be done well rather than quickly, so we support the CLA’s stance on delaying the transition. We think that we have concertinaed the work on ELMS, for example, too much to try to bring that forward into a sensible place.

Also, while we support the general move towards public payments for public goods, we see that move alongside the productivity elements, which we believe are really important as well. The Bill has a couple of lines on productivity, but we want to see much more about how that can work alongside creating resilience within farm businesses. There are also the trading elements and ensuring that we are not undercut by cheap imports from abroad, produced to standards that are illegal here; the fair dealing practices; and the issue of access to the tenanted sector. Schedule 3 goes some way towards addressing that sector, but it needs a little bit of work.