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:

I believe DEFRA envisages, which I think is right, two types of support. One is to assist with specific one-off costs—I gave the farrowing crate as an example—but the other is to reward people who are meeting a higher standard. To my mind, that must be linked to a good labelling scheme, because if we are spending public money to assist farmers to reach a higher standard, we should also be able to tell consumers about it, so that they can respond, in the same way that we have seen with eggs. When there was a choice between free-range and battery eggs, people migrated overwhelmingly to free range, to the point that it is now very difficult to get the lowest standard of egg in supermarkets. You are right that, over time, we will probably develop further ideas on how to give farm animals the best possible life, and that is right—we should not stay at the same level forever—but for the time being there is a lot to be done to reinforce the farmers who are striving to be the best.