Speaking at the Oxford Agriculture Conference, EFRA Secretary George Eustice said that despite the scale of the change, the programs were “part of an evolution, not a revolution “which would give farmers the flexibility to adapt and decide the best way forward for their businesses.
Yet when asked by the public whether the focus on re-wilding, hedge regeneration and habitat restoration, as well as trade deals favorable to major food-exporting countries such as Australia and New Zealand, meant that the UK risked slipping into a food crisis in the same way. as he fell into the current energy crisis, he denied that such an outcome was likely:
“Agriculture in England is moving away from the arbitrary land subsidies and top-down bureaucracy of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, in favor of programs that recognize the work farmers do as stewards of the natural environment” , said Eustice.
And he added that the UK government is committed to reviewing its policy every three years to ensure the direction of travel does not jeopardize profitable food production in the UK.
He said the two new environmental land management programs would play a critical role in halting species decline, sustainable soil management and restoring up to 300,000 hectares of wildlife habitat.
Responding to other criticisms that there was little support for food production, Eustice said the market should provide a fair income for farmers’ produce when it was the government’s duty to help achieve the climate change and biodiversity targets.
However, the difference in approach taken by decentralized nations became apparent at the conference – Welsh Agriculture Minister Lesley Griffiths and Edwin Poots of Northern Ireland revealing that their policies would be more focused on food production and agriculture. Food Safety.
And while Scotland’s rural cabinet secretary Mairi Gougeon was unable to attend the conference due to a previous engagement, the Scottish government has already pledged to maintain agricultural productivity.
Griffiths said agriculture was central to the rural economy in Wales and described a move towards more sustainable agriculture – while Poots said in Northern Ireland he planned to optimize production and to encourage farmers to get involved in renewable energy, through measures such as the exploitation of methane production of cows.
Minister NI criticized the UK’s recent trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, saying cheaper imports that undermine UK farmers would simply see emissions relocated to other parts of the world.
However, Poots supported Eustice’s view that UK farmers should have access to crops produced using gene editing techniques, after the EFRA secretary said despite opposition from the majority of those polled at the consultation to the use of such technologies, the UK administration was on the verge of further easing regulations.