Nick Herbert launches agenda for farming

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has launched an agenda to support a more productive and sustainable farming industry and to protect valuable farmland from development.

The Shadow Environment Secretary was at the National Farmers Union annual conference today (23 February) to launch ‘A New Age of Agriculture - Our Agenda for British Farming.'

The Agenda has five key aims: to enable increased production whilst protecting the environment, to promote fair competition, to reduce the burden of regulation, to further reform the Common Agricultural Policy, and to take action on animal disease.

The Agenda sets out two major new proposals:

  • The introduction of rules into the new national planning framework to prevent the development of the most fertile farmland, in all but exceptional circumstances.
  • Fundamental reform of the Rural Payments Agency, appointing the Minister for Farming as Chairman of its Management Board, to improve accountability, reduce costs and drive up performance.

The Agenda also sets out key Conservative pledges to:

  • Commission within the first three months of taking office an industry-led review of all existing regulations with a view to reducing burdens without compromising standards
  • Introduce legislation on country of origin labelling if a comprehensive voluntary agreement cannot be reached
  • Ensure that all food served in Government departments meets British standards of production, wherever this can be delivered without increasing overall costs

Nick Herbert commented: "The Government has persistently under-valued British agriculture, failing to understand that we all depend on the production of food, while the countryside relies on farmers' stewardship of the environment.

"Despite its importance to our food security, the protection of our best farmland has been downgraded and the Government has over-ridden councils who have sought to keep in place local protection of this valuable asset.

"In this New Age of Agriculture, we need to strengthen the protection of our most fertile farmland and recognise its importance as a national resource for future generations."

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Ed Barker