Government plans for agriculture after the UK leaves the European Union must be more closely scrutinised by parliament, says a cross-party group of MPs.
The recommendation comes in a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Farming – an informal group of parliamentarians chaired by Conservative MP Julian Sturdy, who represents the York Outer constituency.
“The objectives and delivery of the Agriculture Bill, the Trade Bill, the Environment Plan and Bill, and the Food Plan require significantly more transparent policy co-ordination and greater parliamentary scrutiny,” it says.
Details of the various bills should be challenged, says the report. This includes how food quality and security will be supported under government proposals to allocate public money to farmers who deliver public goods.
The report says the future funding cycle for farm support should be made clear – and asks for government assurance that changes will not be introduced at short notice.
So far, the government has guaranteed support at existing levels only for the duration of the current parliament.
Brexit will see direct payments phased out in favour of environmental support.
The report asks how farmers already delivering such “public goods” will be equitably supported compared to those who will require support to achieve public good outcomes.
All-party parliamentary groups have no official status within government or parliament. Despite their informal nature, however, they do have some influence and give interested parties the opportunity to discuss topical issues with politicians.
The all-party farming group’s recommendations follow a year-long inquiry.
Evidence was submitted by a number of farming organisations – including the NFU, Country Land and Business Association, National Sheep Association and British Poultry Council.