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Secretary of State Michael Gove introduced the Government’s Agriculture Bill to Parliament on 12 September. The Bill represents legislation to deliver a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations after nearly half a century under EU rules.
It 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 pays farmers based on the total amount of land farmed. Responses to Defra’s public consultation, Health and Harmony, revealed that many people consider the CAP to be inefficient, unfair and outdated.
Leaving the European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will give England the opportunity for fundamental reform. A new Environmental Land Management system will be the cornerstone of our agricultural policy in England.
The system will help the Government to deliver its manifesto commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it inherited it. Farming and forestry cover 80% of land in the UK. Farmers and foresters are therefore crucial to achieving the goals set out in our recently published 25 Year Environment Plan.
A new Environmental Land Management system will help us to preserve the investment in our countryside that has already been made and delivered by farmers, and to enhance this further. The new system will pay land managers for delivering environmentally beneficial outcomes; and will provide support for farmers and other land managers as we move towards a more effective application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
The ambition is that in the future, Environmental Land Management System will pay land managers for providing environmental outcomes in accordance with a Natural Capital approach.