Agriculture Bill

Written evidence submitted by the Agricultural Christian Fellowship (ACF) (AB43)

The ACF would like to remind the Government that it has a statutory responsibility to protect its citizens , specifically that:

1. People eat food : the ACF believes that the Government’s responsibilit ies to its people extend to ensuring a dependable supply of affordable, healthy food in order that adult people can feed themselves and their children , in all wealth groups . We wonder how the Government can expect the British public to take the Agriculture Bill seriously when it says so little about food and where and how food will be sourced?

The ACF strongly recommends that food security is recognised as a public good . Also, in order to improv e the resilience of the UK’s farming systems that the Government ensures that the diversity of farming and growing business is maintain ed and increas ed: large, small and micro; owned and tenant; and reserved holdings for young entrants. The ACF supports capped subsidies (at £1 2 0,000) for the production of healthy food produced to the highest levels of food standards, animal welfare and environmental care .

2. People breath air , drink water and derive satisfaction from access to healthy farmland and farmed landscapes : the ACF welcomes the increased recognition by the Government of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that will produce food for future generations, and for wildlife and landscapes. The ACF therefore welcomes increased payments to farmers that are committed to leaving healthier farms than they found when entering farming.

While welcoming the Government’s commitment to use ‘public money for public goods’ , the ACF strongly recommend s a two-tier support system that supports food production on the one-hand and wildlife improvement schemes on the other. The ACF is concerned that the Agriculture Bill may usher in overly bureaucratic top-down scheme s that fail to benefit farmers , environmentalists or wildlife as indeed has been the case in recent schemes. The ACF strongly recommends that farmers are supported and required to become the true custodians of the countryside.

3. Young people, old people and vulnerable people need help : the ACF believes that farms offer ideal opportunities for the young, the old and the vulnerable in our society to benefit from spending time o ut-of-doors, on farms and learning to care for crops and animals.

The ACF strongly recommend that the Agriculture Bill makes special provision for a significant growth in subsidized care farming.

4. People recognise the earth as home : the ACF is dismayed that some in Government see Brexit as an opt-in to a trad ing system that will be governed by the WTO. This will make it extremely difficult to restrict entry of products resulting from: low food safety, poor working conditions, animal welfare, and environmental protection. The only logical reason for championing such a trade agreement appears to be vest interest and personal greed.

The ACF strongly recommends that if the UK is to leave the EU that it does so only with a negotiated trade deal in place that safe-guards the UK from an influx of cheap and ‘toxic’ food. Otherwise it is hard to conceive of payments for public goods large enough to ensure the future of wildlife friendly farming in the UK.

October 2018

 

Prepared 30th October 2018