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Link’s Agriculture Working Group seeks to conserve the natural and historic environment and improve animal welfare by seeking improvements to agriculture and land management policy.

Chair: Helen Chesshire, Woodland Trust
Vice Chair: Tom Lancaster, RSPB
Policy and Campaigns Manager: Zoe Davies, Link

Update from the group:

Link’s Agriculture Group continues to focus on the impacts of Brexit on farming and land management - specifically the replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy as the UK leaves the EU. The Group continues to work in partnership with Greener UK, Sustain, and with our colleagues in the devolved countries through Environment Links UK, to ensure we advocate effectively for the best possible outcomes for post-Brexit agriculture policy across the UK.

Members of the Group are working closely with colleagues at Greener UK to influence the Agriculture Bill. Our briefing for Second Reading recognised the positive aspects of the Bill – namely that it does allow for payment of public money for delivery of public goods – and sets out our priorities for amendments. These include: the need for a long-term funding settlement to give farmers confidence in the new scheme; enshrining duties in the Bill, not just powers; the establishment of a regulatory baseline and binding objectives; and ensuring that payments to increase productivity do not undermine the delivery of public goods. We are preparing for the Bill to return to the Commons for Report Stage, and subsequently to enter the House of Lords. Follow the progress of the Agriculture Bill and amendments as they are tabled here.

Alongside its work on the Agriculture Bill, the Group is developing its thinking on the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) – the key policy that will flow from the Bill. It is essential, for farmers, wildlife and future generations, that Government gets this critical new policy right, so in the coming months Link will be advocating its position to Defra on complex aspects of ELMS such as governance, monitoring and evaluation, regulation and enforcement.

With Environment Links UK colleagues, Link is also seeking to influence the review of fair allocation of funding for domestic farm support across the UK. The review is limited to allocation of a small pot of ‘convergence funding’ from 2020 up to the end of this parliament, but it will have significant implications for funding allocations in the long-term. ELUK representatives met with Lord Bew, Chair, and other panel members in May to discuss the implications of the review for post Brexit funding arrangements.

Link, alongside RSPB and Pesticide Action Network UK, recently resigned from the Pesticides Forum and the Voluntary Initiative (VI), due to deep concern about the environmental impacts of pesticides. Link has participated in these industry and government led groups for two decades to encourage them to take meaningful action to reduce the impacts of pesticides. However, they have consistently demonstrated a lack of balance and, importantly, have failed to support those farmers who are leading the way by reducing their reliance on pesticides. Our resignation was covered in the Telegraph, Farmers Weekly and Ends Report.

For further information, contact Zoe Davies, Link’s Policy and Campaigns Manager.

Last updated: 31 May 2019