What next for the Agriculture Bill?

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The two key themes coming out of the Agriculture Bill’s recent second reading in the House of Lords were the need to preserve standards to protect British farmers and for greater clarity and detail about the transition out of BPS and into ELMs.

Jeanette Dennis, an Agriculture and Estates specialist solicitor, looks at some more of the practicalities and the particular areas where the CLA is lobbying for amendments on behalf of the agricultural community.

Transitiona delay is being sought in the BPS payment cuts so that they begin in 2022 but with the new scheme still starting from 2024.  Plus a push for new funding windows to increase from five to seven years.  During the debate, the Minister was keen to reassure that more information will be available later this year and that for most farmers the maximum reduction in direct payments in 2021 will be no more than five percent.

Community Infrastructure Levy – the hope is that an exception will be made for properties constructed solely for agricultural purposes so that the CIL isn’t payable.

Rural Development – the aim is to amend the Bill to provide for the continuation of funding schemes such as the Growth Programme and LEADER to support the development of rural businesses through grants, training and advice.

Tenancies – safeguards are being sought to ensure landlords are protected and the law is not overly weighted towards tenants.

Trade standards – there is a repeated call for the UK to be a world leader in environmental and animal welfare standards.

Among other issues debated was the proposal for food security reporting to be five-yearly, with an annual alternative being suggested.  Reducing the use of pesticides and calls for a land-use strategy also featured.

It is clear is that the Government wishes to get the Bill passed into law as quickly as possible and will be trying to minimise amendments.

Anyone wanting to discuss the likely legal impacts on their farming business can contact Jeanette on Jeanette.dennis@ashtonslegal.co.uk. 


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