Environment Bill must not compromise food supply, farmers say

The government has published its Environment Bill which will reshape British environmental policy for a generation, but the policy must not compromise the UK’s food supply, the NFU said.

The NFU said it supported the Bill’s measures to tackle waste crime, which is a blight on rural communities and costly to agricultural businesses. The organisation also welcomed amendments to the Land Drainage Act, which provides a mechanism for the expansion of Internal Drainage Board areas with the agreement of local communities.

The NFU said it did, however, have concerns about a number of elements of the Bill, including increased powers to revoke or vary abstraction licences without the payment compensation to licence holders and aspects of biodiversity offsetting and the introduction of conservation covenants.

FU environment forum chairman Phil Jarvis said: “This landmark legislation appears broad and ambitious and we will examine the details in the coming days to get a much clearer picture of how the proposed measures for protecting and enhancing our environment are joined up with policies that enhance farmers’ ability to produce food for the nation.

“Farmers are custodians of the countryside and our industry has already embarked on a long journey of protecting and maintaining the iconic British countryside, carrying out huge amounts of work to enhance landscapes, benefit soils, water, and air quality, encourage wildlife, and reduce impact on the climate.

“Government, through this Environment Bill, needs to recognise that food production and land management policies must go hand-in-hand; where measures for protecting and enhancing the environment are joined up with policies that support farming’s ability to improve productivity and to manage volatility to ensure we have profitable, productive and progressive farm businesses, both now and in the future.”

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