The Agriculture Bill continues its progress through Parliament, currently in the House of Lords. The Government has consistently refused to allow a legal commitment to ensure imports meet our health, environmental and animal welfare standards. An amendment tabled by Lord Curry was approved with a majority of over 100 in the Lords. It would ensure that independent advice about the impact of any trade deal on our food and farming standards would be given to Parliament before any such trade deal could be approved.
Sustainable Farming Incentive
The Government appears to be bowing to pressure from farmers who fear they will go out of business as the Basic Payment is withdrawn. The new flagship ELM (Environmental Land Management) Scheme will not become available until 2024 by which time the Basic Payment will be significantly reduced. So a new parallel easy-to-access scheme known as the Sustainable Farming Incentive may be introduced as early as 2022. With simple options to improve productivity, notably soil health and fertility, it will be aimed particularly at smaller farmers who may not benefit significantly from nature conservation options. Critics say that such actions should be taken by farmers without being paid as they should improve profitability and funds should not be diverted from ambitious environmental projects.
Avon Valley Curlews
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has been conducting research on waders in the Avon Valley between Salisbury and Christchurch for many years. The latest project, Waders for Real, received European LIFE funding and has been hugely successful according to a new book published by the GWCT. It records how forty local land managers have collaborated in the project to reverse the decline in the lapwing population, achieving an increase from 61 breeding pairs in 2015 to 105 in 2019. Crucial to the success has been predator control, particularly limiting the fox population. Redshank have also benefitted.
Hunt Saboteur Convicted
A hunt saboteur who provided a video of an assault on him by a farmer has been convicted of perverting the course of justice after it was proved that the video had been doctored. It showed the farmer repeatedly kicking out but there was only one action repeated on a loop to misrepresent the incident. The man was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, 100 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs.