Agriculture Bill returns with positive focus for nature and climate

Today marks the return of the landmark Agriculture Bill to Parliament.

The work of farmers and land managers is crucial in fighting the nature and climate emergency – by protecting soils to store carbon, creating wildflower meadows for pollinators, improving the fortunes of farmland wildlife like dormice and barn owls, and restoring uplands to hold water and prevent flooding in towns. This is recognised today in the return of the landmark Agriculture Bill to Parliament.

The Bill marks a clear intention to change how taxpayers’ money is spent towards these environmental ‘public goods’ – this means improvements in the way land is managed in the countryside that benefit the public. This move chimes with the views of 92% of the public who want farming to focus on tackling the climate and nature crises [1].

Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager for The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“Nature is declining at an alarming rate and we must take urgent action to implement measures to help wildlife recover across our countryside. The Government’s Agriculture Bill has the potential to help bring nature back by supporting famers to restore it.

“We hope that as the Bill now goes through Parliament, the Government’s focus on turning the tide on nature’s decline is not lost. This can happen only if farmers and land managers are properly supported by long-term and substantial funding to help tackle the nature and climate emergency we face”.

As the Bill makes its passage through Parliament, and as agriculture policy is developed over the coming months, The Wildlife Trusts will be pressing the Government to:

  •  Maintain the focus of the Agriculture Bill on public goods.
  • Quickly progress the development of agriculture policy to replace the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy – specifically the flagship Environmental Land Management system (ELM).
  • Reward farmers and land managers properly through long-term and substantial funding – at least £3bn – for their role in fighting the climate and nature crisis and delivering benefits to society for which the market cannot pay[2].
  • Ensure that future trade deals and legislation prevent damage to wildlife and ecosystems now and do not limit the ability of future generations to grow food and timber and have access to clean water.

[1] An online omnibus poll with 2140 UK adults was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Wildlife and Countryside Link between 18-19 December 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+)
[2] See 3 billion needed for nature friendly farming