UK sows the seeds for more sustainable agriculture

The Agriculture Bill aims to help farmers maximise the environmental benefits they can offer

  • It will replace current subsidies paying farmers based on the total amount of land farmed
  • The new system will give the largest rewards to those providing the most environmental benefits
  • It will also help fund farmer-led research and development projects
By Jonny Bairstow

Legislation to help farmers work towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment is being introduced into Parliament today.

The Agriculture Bill sets out how farmers and land managers will be paid for creating better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, more public access to the countryside and innovative measures to reduce flooding.

The system will replace the current Direct Payment subsidies, which pay farmers based on the total amount of land farmed.

The government says these payments are ineffective and biased in favour of larger landowners, with the top tenth of recipients currently receiving almost half of the total payments available.

Under the new system, the farmers and land managers providing the greatest environmental benefits will secure the largest rewards.

The government says it will also fund farmer-led projects to help them become more profitable and reduce their environmental footprint.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “The introduction of the Agriculture Bill is an historic moment as we leave the EU and move towards a brighter future for farming.

“After nearly 50 years of being tied to burdensome and outdated EU rules, we have an opportunity to deliver a Green Brexit. This Bill will allow us to reward farmers who protect our environment, leaving the countryside in a cleaner, greener and healthier state for future generations.”