Legislation to deliver a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations after nearly half a century under EU rules is being introduced into Parliament today (12 September).
The Agriculture Bill sets out how farmers and land managers will in future be paid for “public goods”, such as better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, public access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding.
This will replace the current subsidy system of Direct Payments, which is ineffective and pays farmers based on the total amount of land farmed. These payments are skewed towards the largest landowners and are not linked to any specific public benefits. The top 10% of recipients currently receive almost 50% of total payments, while the bottom 20% receive just 2%.
In its place, a new Environmental Land Management system will start from next year. The government will work together with farmers to design, develop and trial the new approach. Under the new system, farmers and land managers who provide the greatest environmental benefits will secure the largest rewards, laying the foundations for a Green Brexit.
The Bill will also be underpinned by measures to increase productivity and invest in (R&D).
For example, there will be funding available for farmers to come together to develop and get the research projects that they want and need, whether that be on soil health or sustainable livestock farming . This will lead to practical gains for farmers that help them become more profitable and reduce their environmental footprint.
The government will also be able to make payments during the seven year transition period for famers to invest in new technologies and methods that boost productivity.