Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 13th February 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Jonnie Hall:

I think it is a very important point for the future direction of agricultural policy anywhere. I would say at the outset that blunt area payments reflect neither activity nor outcomes; they are simply a ticket to receive an income by declaring an area of land and doing some compliance. We really need to work on a system that recognises the actions that deliver an outcome; you then pay for the actions that deliver the outcomes you require. If it were exclusively about delivering outcomes, that is a very risky situation for farmers and crofters in Scotland. We probably need a combination of both systems, and we are piloting various things in Scotland—for example, an outcome-based approach to agri-environment in different parts of the country.

It is about actions on climate change and so forth. How do we encourage more efficient production systems, soil management and extensive grazing systems? That is within the gift of the farmer or crofter. What is not in their gift is the precise outcome that we get from that. We might think that we will get the right outcome, but we do not 100% know. There are lots of forces at play in agricultural land management, and the risks need to be managed carefully. The key thing is to move away from area-based payments in the first place, with actions then delivering the outcomes and objectives that you want.