Farmers to be paid to protect the environment

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Farmers are to be rewarded for protecting the environment, improving access to the countryside and boosting animal welfare under proposals outlined in the Agriculture Bill.

Currently British farmers get around £3.4bn a year in subsidies under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with the money distributed in the main on the basis of the size of the farm.

The new bill, which will replace CAP after Brexit, will include a government pledge to maintain the same level of funding for the duration of the current parliament.

But crucially the focus for the reward of subsidies will switch from size to protecting land, water and air, supporting thriving plants and wildlife, tackling climate change, maintaining beautiful landscapes, improving public access and boosting animal health and welfare.

There will also be more emphasis on food production and the bill will require the government to report regularly on food security.

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The changes set out in the bill will be brought in over seven years, from 2021 to the end of 2027 to help farmers adjust.

Direct payments for the amount of land farmed will be phased out with the largest reductions starting for those who are paid the most.

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Image: Animal welfare will be one of the key elements of the bill

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said the bill would transform British farming and enable a balance between food production and the environment to safeguard the countryside and farming communities.

"This is one of the most important environmental reforms for many years, rewarding farmers for the work they do to safeguard our environment and helping us meet crucial goals on climate change and protecting nature and biodiversity.

"We will move away from the EU's bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy and towards a fairer system which rewards our hard-working farmers for delivering public goods, celebrating their world-leading environmental work and innovative,
modern approach to food production," she said.

The proposals have been generally welcomed by farmers, landowners and environmental groups, although there have been warnings about the need for long-term funding and safeguards to ensure environmental standards are not
undermined in future trade deals with countries such as the US.

Friends of the Earth have called for a legal commitment to be added to the bill "to prevent trade deals from forcing lower standards on the UK".

National Farmers' Union president Minette Batters welcomedRead More – Source

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