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:

There are very well-established alternative methods. At the moment, British farming is 50:50—roughly 50% have moved away from farrowing crates and the other half have not. That is a record that is less good than some countries’, and really we should strive to be the best.

One can always argue about the exact wording, but I think that anyone familiar with the range of systems in British farming would agree that it ranges from the very good—where we can really be proud and tell the world that we are the world leader—to areas where the farmers themselves would say that they would like to do better but cannot afford the conversion costs. This is a classic example of a public good. I think the overwhelming majority of British consumers would be pleased to know that farmers were moving up the scale. Farmers themselves would like to, but they need assistance for the one-off transition costs.

This is not an area of huge controversy between us and the National Farmers Union and others. We are all pulling in the same direction, and we should use the opportunity of Brexit to try to make sure that we actually get to that point.