Agriculture Bill moves a step forward

Legislation that will transform British farming has moved forwards to the next stage of the process after MPs rejected an amendment on import standards from Jeremy Corbyn.

The Bill, introduced on 16 January, had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 4 February by environment secretary Theresa Villiers. It passed after MPs voted by 320 to 206 against the amendment that sought to decline the Second Reading because the Bill ‘fails to provide controls on imported agricultural goods, such as chlorinated chicken and hormone treated beef and does not guarantee the environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards which will apply’.

The Bill will replace the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy with a system where farmers are rewarded with public money for public goods, such as cleaner air and water or improved animal welfare standards. Defra said it would help to boost productivity and maximise the potential of land for sustainable food production.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “I am delighted to move the Agriculture Bill forward to Second Reading, for debate and discussion in the House of Commons. Today is the first working day after our historic exit from the EU and this Bill will enable us to seize the one of the most important opportunities from being an independent nation – the freedom to write our own rules about how we farm and manage our land.

The Bill will now go to committee stage, with report stage and third reading following this, before transferring to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

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