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The Agricultural Bill

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The Agricultural Bill

It was announced that the Agricultural Bill was not scheduled to be debated during the final session of Parliament which had commenced on 9th September 2019.

As everybody is now aware Parliament is currently prorogued until 14th October 2019. Parliament continues to exist but does not sit.

Under convention, all legislation waiting to be approved is shelved and a fresh parliamentary session begins with a clean slate. DEFRA have indicated that the bill currently before the house could be carried over to the next parliamentary session adding “the Government will look to work constructively with the opposition on this front”.

The Government has already confirmed its on-going commitment to the same totalling funds for farm support across the UK until the end of this Parliament which ends in 2022.

Agricultural Finance

As the Government beats its chest in a clear election rally the Chancellor delivered a spending round dealing with capital budgets through to 2021.

Key agricultural highlights were:

  • 3.3% increase in real terms to the resource budget for the department of the environment, food and rural affairs between 2019 and 2021
  • £432 million of Brexit funding including £20 million to support deliver of DEFRA replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy in England.  The statement reiterates the intention for the CAP replacement to prioritise environmental outcomes
  • £8 million for animal health to tackle antimicrobial resistance and bovine tuberculosis

The Government is to maintain its commitment to provide the same cash totalling funds for farm support until the end of the Parliament although exact figures have not been provided.  It is suggested that a multiyear spending review will be conducted in 2020 for capital and resource budgets beyond 2020/21.

An important issue arising therein is general enhancement of expenditure in the sector although the replacement for the CAP in England and prioritisation of “environmental outcomes” is significant. Everything is focusing on the fact that payments will be made but they will expect something in return. Payments simply for holding land are likely to fall away.