Farming News - Agriculture Bill to be released by end of July, Gove confirms at EFRA grilling

Agriculture Bill to be released by end of July, Gove confirms at EFRA grilling

14 Jun 2018
Frontdesk

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee took evidence from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP.

Questioning focused on the work of Defra, including topics such as Brexit progress, animal welfare, air quality and plastics. Notably, the Secretary of State announced his intention to bring the Agriculture Bill before Parliament by the end of July, and responded to questions on the Asda and Sainsbury’s merger, the Rural Payments Agency, and Rural Broadband.

Chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP summarised the points raised.

Agriculture Bill

“Today Michael Gove told the Committee that the Agriculture Bill will be published before the end of July.The Agriculture Bill will be a landmark piece of legislation that will transform UK farming and environmental protections. It is essential that the EFRA Committee has the opportunity to scrutinise the Bill in advance of it being presented to Parliament.”

Broadband

“It is unacceptable that promises made to rural communities about improving broadband are not being kept. The Government continues to talk about improving broadband speeds while many communities are not guaranteed even basic internet connection. We should focus on providing a baseline service to all of the UK, ensuring that rural areas receive similar service levels to those enjoyed by many urban centres.”

RPA

“The RPA is failing to deliver on its key role of distributing payments in a timely fashion. if they were a private company they would be out of business by now. The Secretary of State told us that the problematic re-mapping process is a European Union requirement, and that ‘we won’t need to have mapping in the future’. We look forward to the promised improvements under a new system, though it is not yet clear why users should be confident that this new system can be delivered any better than the old one. The Government needs to give farmers assurances that the RPA can deliver on the new policy proposals.”

 Asda/Sainsbury’s merger

“The proposed Sainsburys-Asda merger could have a significant impact on British farmers and suppliers. Whilst we appreciate the need for retailers to remain competitive, we are concerned that the merger may lead to one retailer dominating the market and putting pressure on growers and suppliers.  We are looking at the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator in relation to this, and the extent of its current remit and powers.”