The future for food, farming and the environment Contents


Defra’s consultation paper: Health and Harmony

1.Once the UK leaves the EU, the Government plans to incentivise methods of farming that create new habitats for wildlife, increase biodiversity, reduce flood risk, better mitigate climate change and improve air quality by reducing agricultural emissions.1 It intends to do this by leaving the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and implementing a new system based on paying public money for public goods.

2.The Government published its agriculture consultation ‘Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit’2 on 27 February 2018. This paper consults on a new domestic settlement for agriculture in England which will help deliver the Government’s ambitions to “provide better support for farmers and land managers who maintain, restore, or create precious habitats for wildlife”.3 The results of this consultation will inform the upcoming Agriculture Bill, due later in 2018.

3.Agricultural policy is a devolved issue, as are other areas of legislation relating to farming. The consultation focuses on the approach to be adopted in England but notes that the UK Government and devolved administrations are working together to determine common frameworks in areas that are currently governed by EU law.

Our inquiry

4.In April and May 2018, we took oral evidence from six panels of witnesses to hear different sectors’ analyses of the Government’s proposals. Our final oral evidence session was held on 2 May 2018 with George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. We thank all of those who submitted oral and/or written evidence to this inquiry.

5.The Government’s paper is in many ways unfinished and lacks detail on, for example, the levels of future funding and the design of a future agricultural support system. This has inhibited our work. We look forward to receiving further such details from the Government in the coming months once it has analysed the responses to its consultation and prepares to publish its Agriculture Bill.

Links to other inquiries

6.We have recently carried out inquiries on Brexit: Trade in Food4 and Labour Constraints.5 As such, these aspects of the consultation paper are not covered in detail in this Report.

1 Defra, Health and Harmony, February 2018, p6

2 Defra, Health and Harmony, February 2018

3 Gove, M. Green Brexit: a new era for farming, fishing and the environment, Speech, 15 March 2018

4 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2017–19, Brexit: Trade in Food, HC 348

5 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2016–17, Feeding the nation: labour constraints, HC 1009

Published: 6 June 2018