To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential impact of recent measures the EU has taken to support its agricultural sector during the conflict in Ukraine on the competitiveness of (a) farmers and (b) fertiliser manufacturers in the UK.
The UK is working with G7 and other partners in multilateral fora such as the World Trade Organization, to monitor and address global food security issues, focusing on the ongoing benefits of open markets, and working together to ensure that sufficient, safe, affordable and nutritious food continues to be available and accessible to all. We are aware that other countries have put various measures in place to support their agricultural sectors. We are monitoring developments and applying our own measures in the UK.
The Secretary of State recently announced a range of measures in support of the current situation, such as delaying changes to the use of urea fertiliser to help farmers manage their costs and improving statutory guidance for use of slurry. On 31 March I hosted the first meeting of the Fertiliser Taskforce with key industry bodies to discuss potential mitigations to the challenges which global supply pressures are causing. The second Taskforce meeting occurred on 18 May, hosted by Minister Churchill. Ministers will continue to meet with key industry bodies for further Fertiliser Taskforce sessions in the coming months, to help identify and mitigate potential risks.
In addition, the 2022 Basic Payment Scheme payment will be made in two instalments to give farmers an advance injection of cash. Farmers with eligible applications will receive half of their payment from the end of July, and the rest from December. By doing this, the Government intends to inject cash into farm businesses, helping them to make business decisions sooner, with more confidence. Leaving the EU has given us flexibility to introduce this measure. In the days of the EU this would never have been possible due to the way audits worked and the need to enforce the three crop rule during the summer.
We continue to keep the market situation under review through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, inputs, trade and recent developments. We have also increased our engagement with industry to supplement our analysis with real-time intelligence.