The Future Of Agriculture And Farming
The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook is currently
gathering news items for major features in the next edition covering the
Government’s measures to help farmers become more competitive whilst still
maintaining environmental protection
In January this year the Government announced the creation of new Rural and Farming
Networks giving rural business leaders a hotline to the heart of Government and allowing
them to be able to directly shape future rural policies.
Fourteen networks representing different areas of England have been set up to identify and
feed back local issues and concerns straight to the heart of Government, in order to make
policies more rural-friendly.
The Networks bring together people from rural communities, rural businesses and the food
and farming industries. They will make a direct link between rural areas and the
Government, creating new opportunities to develop better and more targeted policy.
The new networks sit alongside a £165 million package of measures to support rural
communities announced in the Rural Economy Growth Review which aims to maximise the
economic potential of rural communities and businesses. The Rural Economy Growth
£100 million to grow rural businesses through the Rural Development Programme for
Grants totalling £20 million to extend superfast broadband to the remotest areas;
New Rural Growth Networks to help rural areas overcome barriers to growth such as
poor infrastructure, scarcity of business premises and lack of business networks;
Action to cut red tape on use of farm buildings to address the shortage of rural business
£25 million to promote rural tourism and supporting its businesses; and
Loans totalling £20 million for community-owned renewable energy schemes.
Then in February the farming industry became the first to benefit from the Government’s
pledge to slash red tape which hinders business efficiency.
A raft of measures to free farmers from the shackles of unnecessary burdens, help their
businesses become more competitive and so provide a boost to the economy whilst still
ensuring environmental protection were published in February.
Launching the Government’s full response to Farming Regulation Task Force, Mr Paice, the
Farming Minister, committed to take action on 86 per cent of the independent panel’s original
recommendations made last May.
Key commitments included:
A pilot to increase data sharing between government agencies that if successful will be
extended, leading to less form filling;
Closer industry involvement in the policy making process to look for non-regulatory
approaches wherever possible, and a Defra-NFU staff exchange programme starting in
Simplifying messages to farmers about environmental protection rules so they know
exactly what they have to do to comply;
Offering a potential way forward for removing the six-day livestock standstill rule, as long
the livestock industry can develop a workable approach to the use of livestock separation
units which will maintain protection against animal disease and that the changes are
affordable and enforceable; and
Fewer inspections for farmers who already meet high environmental and animal welfare
standards, as a result of NFU-led regional networks co-ordinating Government agencies,
local councils and assurance scheme providers.
More effective UK lobbying on key EU farming laws, by working closely with industry
experts through strategy groups;
Scheduled meetings between the Department of Transport and the NFU on changing
rules restricting tractor and trailer weights;
Making it easier for farmers to access Government services on-line;
A fly-tipping summit to bring together organisations across all sectors to galvanise
support for regional action; and
Defra workshops with farmers to look at how paperwork can be reduced.
In March, as the next stage of the £165 million package of support to help unlock the
economic potential of our rural areas, this was followed by the launch of a new £20 million
scheme to help provide work-based training for rural businesses.
There will be training opportunities in business management and computer skills (ICT),
improving resource efficiency, developing leadership qualities, and improving animal health
and welfare. Businesses will also be able to apply for training to improve traditional rural and
farming skills and take new business opportunities in rural tourism.
Around one thousand rural farms and businesses will soon turn business plans into reality as
the first grants from the new £20 million Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme are
approved by Defra, Farming Minister, Jim Paice announced in April.
Farmers, foresters and horticulturalists will receive grants of up to £25,000 to invest in green
projects and new machinery so their businesses can grow in a more sustainable way.
The Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme will fund new profit-boosting green
save energy and reduce carbon emissions;
reduce dependence on artificial fertilizers through better use of manures;
improve soil quality;
improve animal health and welfare;
save and recycle water; and
promote woodland management by processing timber more efficiently.
These schemes are part of Defra’s £100 million package of investments through the Rural
Development Programme for England that was announced in the Rural Economy Growth
Review in November 2011.
The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook will continue to report
on the progress of the measures as we go through the months ahead.