Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th December 2020.

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Photo of Luke Evans Luke Evans Conservative, Bosworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to work with the farming community to tackle difficulties arising from the bad harvest in 2020.

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

Defra has established the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group (UKAMMG) which is meeting on a trial basis during the transition period and will go ‘live’ on 01/01/21. It monitors UK agricultural markets, which includes barley and other grains, including price, supply, trade and recent developments, enabling it to provide forewarning of any atypical market movements. We engage regularly with arable stakeholders to understand and respond to concerns and issues raised by the farming community.

An extremely wet winter followed by a dry spring, have provided us with difficult harvest conditions this year. In March this year, the Government announced new measures to help farmers recover from recent flooding. The Government has supported farmers through relaxing crop diversification requirements, known as the "three crop rule", as farmers in flooded areas had suggested they would have difficulty complying with the rule this year.

We are actively supporting farmers in their planting decisions as the transition period ends and we head into 2021. The landmark Agriculture Act, which has just received Royal Assent, allows the Government to simplify the Basic Payment Scheme and cut red tape faced by farmers. With effect from the 2021 scheme year, farmers will no longer have to comply with the so-called greening requirements.

The Government has granted approximately 1,700 farmers and land managers financial support to build resilience in their business models ahead of the changes through the agricultural transition period between 2021-27.The projects cover a range of business and wellbeing support approaches and measures across different sectors and regions to improve the resilience and mental health of farmers. Defra will closely monitor and evaluate these projects to support decisions on how to provide stronger support throughout the beginning of the transition period.

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