Peers must be given time to thoroughly scrutinise Agricultural Bill

The next stage of the Agriculture Bill must not be rushed in the House of Lords, the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has cautioned.

TFA chief executive, George Dunn, said: “Everyone recognises how vital this piece of legislation will be for the future of agriculture, food security, animal welfare and the farmed environment.

“For the first time in over 40 years, we will be determining our own policy for these important areas outside of the framework of EU rules.

This legislation will determine our direction of travel for a generation and we must ensure that it is as good as it can be for the health and well-being of all UK citizens.

Having been through its House of Commons stages, peers are expected to have their first opportunity for a full debate on the Agricultural Bill on June 10.

“The bill has already been used as a guinea pig, for the new measures introduced by the House of Commons authorities, to ensure the safety of Members of Parliament in carrying out their work in the context of Covid-19,” said Dunn.

“This meant a rather rushed and stifled report stage for the bill which must not be repeated for the House of Lords stages.”

Further measures needed to protect farmers

Dunn explained that while there is much to be welcomed in the bill, there is a lot more that needs to be considered before it can be judged appropriate.

“We need further measures in relation to the protection of standards in trade, better provisions on food security, improvements in the arrangements for the regulation of food supply chains, assurances around protecting payments to active farmers and land managers and closing loopholes in the much-needed protections for farm tenants.

“The House of Lords is usually a good place for the level of scrutiny required to get into the detail of this bill, but it must be given the time and space to play that important role,” said Dunn.

The Government is keen to get this legislation on the statute book before the end of the summer as a clear signal of departure from our past involvement with the European Union.

“However, we must not let political point-scoring or misplaced virtue signalling to hijack the work needed to produce good legislation.”