Farming has a bright future outside the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. The Great Yorkshire Show demonstrated the strengths that British farming has to offer with a record-breaking number of entries for sheep and cattle, and great produce from Wensleydale cheese to North Yorkshire game.
I know very well the importance of supporting these farmers in Yorkshire and Humber, home to my own constituency and farm, as well as my Rt Hon friend’s constituency, Haltemprice and Howden. As we prepare to leave the EU, the UK Government is taking a number of steps to support our farmers and industry in England and across the UK.
For the UK as a whole, the Government has pledged to continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this Parliament, expected in 2022; this includes all funding provided for farm support under both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the current Common Agricultural Policy.
The Government has also guaranteed that any projects where funding has been agreed before the end of 2020 will be funded for their full lifetime. This means, in the event the UK leaves the EU with no deal, the UK Government would fund any remaining payments to farmers, land managers and rural businesses due after October 2019. This would ensure continued funding for these projects until they finish. The guarantee also means that Defra and the devolved administrations can continue to sign new projects after the UK leaves the EU during 2019 and 2020.
As agriculture is devolved, each administration will have the flexibility to develop agricultural policy suited to their own unique circumstances, once the UK has left the EU. It is for the Scottish, Welsh and future Northern Ireland Governments to decide upon future agricultural policies for their respective nations.
For farmers in England, the Agriculture Bill marks a decisive shift in our support. We will create an ambitious new system based on paying “public money for public goods”. Public goods will include improving air and water quality, and habitats for wildlife. By paying for things the public value, we can also improve animal welfare and reduce the use of antibiotics in our food chain. Financial support for innovations like precision farming can help farmers become more productive, reduce the use of expensive chemicals and protect the environment.
Critically, our Agriculture Bill also includes a seven year transition period of 2021–2027 for Direct Payments to help farmers in England to plan for the future. In the meantime direct payments for 2019 and 2020 will be made on the same basis as they are now, with simplifications where possible.