The return of the Agriculture Bill is a welcome announcement for farmers and the entire industry; giving shape to developing post-Brexit policy in England.
“This is a monumental moment for agriculture,” says Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV). “This passing of the Agriculture Bill will be our generation’s 1947 moment; where we have a life changing opportunity to review the national expectations of agriculture and set out the tools and support to achieve this.”
Notably the Bill has recognised the importance of soil quality as a ‘public good’ which can be supported by the money being moved away from Basic Payment. “This is a really positive step and we can now look forward to seeing how this will be delivered,” says Mr Moody.
“The new policies, moving more towards creating market in food production, land use and the environment, will open up enormous changes for the industry. However, many producers are focused on what will happen with trade and this is an area on which farmers should keep one eye with their own businesses in mind.”
The clear transition window for phasing out BPS from 2021 to 2027 means changes can be implemented sensibly.
“This timeframe is vital for farmers and their advisers to review their businesses, using the time to plan for the eroding of BPS, and handle and deliver the necessary changes,” says Mr Moody. “The budget for farming has been guaranteed for the next five years, but regardless of this, attention needs to be turned to business improvement and efficiency, skills and innovation investment, new enterprises and generational changes.
“Letting land out to the right people should be a key part of the changes we see under the Agriculture Bill, but we wait to see what the modernisation of tenancies will entail,” he adds.
Preparing for these changes is bigger than Defra and will involve all associated with the industry. “The CAAV is part of these changes and its members, as trusted practical advisers to farmers and landowners, are ready to assist in the complex discussion, decisions and actions needed on each farm as we make a new future,” says Mr Moody.
“This is the starting gun. Action and movement need to happen in the sector. The time of indecisiveness is over and now is the moment for change.”