Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:57 pm on 13th February 2020.

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Dr Palmer:

The absence of a clear percentage commitment regarding the amount of support that will be given for animal welfare purposes means that a degree of uncertainty remains, which is bad for the whole agricultural industry. A farmer needs to know that what amount of money is potentially available, so that they can try to work for it. With respect to the new Chancellor, we are unlikely to get an infinite amount of subsidy in the Budget, so it makes sense that the available money is used to help farmers to become among the best in the world, rather than to move marginally from a fairly low base to a slightly higher one.

In the long term, the future of British farming has to be at the top of the scale. If we try to race to the bottom, we will fail. The British farming industry will not succeed on that basis, so we should consider the areas where we can help farmers to move towards higher welfare—for instance, ending the use of farrowing crates. There is a one-off cost, which it is reasonable to help them with. Once they have moved away from that, there should not be an additional cost. They will then, in association with the better labelling scheme, be able to tell consumers that British farming has produced higher welfare, higher quality meat.