Agriculture Bill Third Reading, 13 May 2020

Agriculture Bill Third Reading, 13 May 2020

The Agriculture Bill, that was debated and voted on in the House of Commons last month, is as significant as it is complex.

Basic Payments to Farmers

To oversimplify, farmers will lose their Basic Payments (paid against how much land they own) and be paid (much less) only for ‘non-market impacts’ – flood prevention and the environment. Currently about half a farmer’s income comes from Basic Payments.

The Bill will ‘encourage’ (no details yet) farmers to reduce their costs, retire as appropriate, and facilitate new entrants.

Cheap Imports

A main concern is vulnerability to cheap imports with lower food standards (chlorinated chicken, intensive livestock): the Bill does not cover these, leaving them to individual trade agreements.

Can Britain Feed Itself?

George Eustice
George Eustice, MP

Increased food self-sufficiency also is not in the Bill.

Government prefers to rely on the trickle-down effect. As George Eustice (Secretary of State at Defra) says: “If you increase farm profitability then these things (self-sufficiency) will take care of themselves.”

Food as a Commodity and Agriculture as Separate

But there are two more fundamental flaws in the Bill. Food is still treated as a market commodity (Eustice: “the Bill has the purpose of ensuring farm profitability and growing export markets”) and not a basic human need and, secondly, agriculture remains divorced from the rest of the food system (processing, distribution, consumption).

Need for a Holistic Food Policy

Until a more holistic food policy embraces food as a human need within a whole food system, the big ‘non-market impacts’ of food, particularly food waste, obesity and food poverty, will never be properly addressed.

The Bill now passes to the House of Lords without key amendments that could have helped protect farmers, the environment and food security.

Read more about the Bill from the Soil Association.

We Won Bronze!

Greater Lincolnshire has become the latest place to win a prestigious Sustainable Food Places award. The award recognises Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership’s work to promote healthy, sustainable and local food and to tackle some of today’s greatest social challenges, from food poverty and diet-related ill-health to the disappearance of family farms and the loss of […]

Food for the Planet

Food for the Planet is a framework to help local authorities and food businesses & organisations take simple actions to tackle the climate and nature emergency through food. If you’re a local food business committed to putting better food on the tables of Lincolnshire, consider making a #FoodforthePlanet pledge! Food for the Planet in Lincolnshire […]

Whose Bread is This?

What is grain diversity?
Why does it matter?
What can we do?

Lincolnshire is a big grain producer. As we face unpredictable changes in weather due to global warming, diversity and resilience is increasingly important.


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