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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: Christopher Price, Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Vice Chair: Tom Lancaster, RSPB
Link: Zoe Davies, Policy Lead

Update from the group:

As the Agriculture Bill passes through Parliament, we are working in partnership with Greener UK to secure amendments to the bill on priority issues, including a framework for long-term budget-setting, legal commitments to maintaining standards in trade deals and a more effective regulatory approach to underpin future farming schemes. For more detail, see our most recent briefing for Committee Stage of the bill.

In parallel, we are influencing the policies that will flow from the bill. In our response to the ELM Policy Discussion Document, we critique Defra’s proposals for its flagship policy, Environmental Land Management (ELM). Overall, the ambition needs to be amped up significantly, particularly for tier 1, if we are to meet our climate and environmental goals. There should be a much greater focus on delivery of integrated outcomes and whole-system approaches that enable production of sustainable food and timber whilst delivering tangible benefits for people, nature and climate. Furthermore, reform of the agricultural regulatory and enforcement system, as recommended by Dame Glenys Stacey in 2018, is urgently needed to underpin investment of public money.

Link’s landmark research showed that, despite often being framed as sitting on opposite sides of the fence, farmers and conservationists are largely on the same page about the direction of future farming policy. Link’s report “Putting our eggs in a better basket: A survey of English farmers’ opinions on agriculture policy” shows that 80% of farmers believe the health of the natural environment is important or very important for their farm business. Furthermore, half (50%) of farmers agree with the principle of ‘public money for public goods’ (one third are neutral, and one in five disagree with the principle), and two thirds of farmers say regulation is important or very important to protect standards in the farming industry. This research is a clear call to government to deliver an ambitious Agriculture Bill and future policy that ensures farming and nature survive and thrive.

For further information, contact Zoe Davies, Link’s Policy Lead

Last updated: 31 July 2020

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