Proposed Agricultural Bill post-Brexit
A new Agriculture Bill has been presented to parliament - in response to Brexit. This bill could shape the future of farming, and our countryside, for future generations. Sadly, there appears no recognition of the importance of organic growing.
Why not write to your MP and urge her/him to table amendments? We have until Oct 10th, when the bill will be debated in parliament. See below for suggested points to include.
Garden Organic broadly welcomes the aim of the bill - as it proposes that farmers and land managers will in future be paid, not for amount of land they own, but 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). However, we would also recommend that additional public goods are included – such as reducing the use of pesticides and limiting antibiotic use in livestock. These are all key elements in organic growing.
Our response concurs with that of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology for Sustainable Food and Farming. The APPG response continues:
“The APPG would recommend that (further) measures are included, such as increasing production of fruit, vegetables, pulses and other healthy and nutritious foods, supporting British farmers through more opportunities in public procurement [ie providing food in schools, prisons and hospitals], and improving public access to fresh fruit and vegetables. The agroecological approach to farming should be adopted by the Government, as well as specific farming methods such as organic, pasture-fed and agroforestry.”
If you feel strongly that the Organic voice should be heard, you can contact your MP immediately. The Bill will be debated on Wednesday, October 10th.
Here is a draft letter/email you might like to send. It would help if you could send us a copy too, or just let us know if you have written:
I'm sure you will agree that the proposed agricultural bill has much to recommend it - not least the shift towards payments to farmers for public goods and services.
However, the bill could be made more effective for farmers and our environment by adopting the recommendations of the APPG on Agroecology for Sustainable Food and Farming. https://mailchi.mp/f23a87ccff5f/our-initial-response-to-the-agriculture-bill-1289005?e=44411aa1ee
I would like to draw your attention particularly to the following:
“the APPG would recommend that additional public goods are included: reducing the use of pesticides and certain types of fertilisers, limiting antibiotic use in livestock to only when is necessary, and … supporting British farmers through more opportunities in public procurement.
They go on to say:
“... the curriculums in agricultural colleges and universities should be greatly improved to include education on agroecological, sustainable and climate-friendly methods of farming.
“More broadly, attention must be paid to ensure that farmers do not have to pick or prioritise certain public goods over others - instead the focus should be on whole farming systems. To this end the agroecological approach to farming should be adopted by the Government, as well as specific farming methods such as organic, pasture-fed and agroforestry.
Finally, the APPG recognises that this Bill lacks targets and incentives.
"It is crucially important that all public goods have specific, measurable targets and benchmarks attached which can be used to track changes over time. Furthermore, aspirational targets to attain certain levels of public goods should not be introduced without also introducing legal minimum requirements - which should rise over time as average farming practices improve. Though these targets need to include a clear specification of the amount of financial assistance which will be provided to farmers for the provision of these public goods, and in what varying amounts, with assurances of long-term budgetary commitments."
I am an organic grower myself. Organic growing provides all the "public goods" that the Rt Hon Michael Gove hopes to encourage: clean air and water, healthy soil, and excellent animal welfare.
I hope that you will represent me by tabling or supporting amendments during the Bill's debate which ensures this bill provides a clearer commitment to organic and sustainable growing.
Don't forget - your MP only has until Wednesday 10 October to know how important organic growing is - for future farmers, growers, and all of us who deserve the benefits of 'public goods'.