Agriculture: Coronavirus

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 29th June 2020.

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Photo of Darren Henry Darren Henry Conservative, Broxtowe

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support farmers to adapt their business models during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government wants a profitable and resilient farming sector. We will always champion our farmers and growers by supporting them to produce more of our great British food and drink, providing a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public.

At the outset of the pandemic, we introduced a number of measures to support our farming sectors through this difficult period. These included relaxing drivers’ hours, temporarily relaxing certain elements of competition law and a dairy response fund to help those dairy farmers most in need of support. We have also worked closely with the dairy and horticulture sectors to address supply chain and labour issues.

We have been in close discussion with banks to ensure the farming sector has access to financial support to ease cashflow problems during this period, including through the HMG backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL), and the Bounce Back Loan scheme.

The Agriculture Bill provides the legislative basis for longer term transition to support investment in a more productive and sustainable farming sector.

It will allow us to introduce ambitious new land management schemes in England, based on the principle of "public money for public goods", so that we can reward farmers and land managers who protect our environment, improve animal welfare and produce high quality food in a more sustainable way. The Bill will also help farmers to stay competitive, with measures to increase productivity and invest in new technology.

Last week, Defra and the Department for International Trade launched a package of support that will offer immediate support to help agriculture, food and drink businesses grow their trade activity overseas. This will help producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain, from farm to fork.

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