The UK Government’s Agriculture Bill, which includes plans to repatriate lost red meat levies to Scotland, has become law.
The much-debated bill, which outlines plans for post-Brexit agricultural policy in England as well as some UK-wide frameworks, has been described by UK Environment Secretary George Eustice as a “landmark” piece of legislation.
It has attracted much attention during its scrutiny in both the Commons and House of Lords, with several attempts made to include legislation requiring imported foods to meet the same production standards as in the UK.
MPs rejected various amendments to this effect, and instead backed an amendment to the bill to increase parliamentary scrutiny of free trade agreements in relation to their impact on the food and farming sector, and for the Trade Bill to include legislation to put the Trade and Agriculture Commission on a statutory footing.
NFU England and Wales president Minette Batters said: “This will play a crucial role in ensuring our farmers are not undercut in future trade deals by food imports that would be illegal to produce here.”
As well as outlining plans to pay English farmers for “public goods” the Bill includes legislation relating to fertiliser and organics regulation, as well as food security.
The food security legislation places a duty in law for the UK Government to report on food security every three years.
The first report will be published at the end of next year, and will include analysis of the impacts on food supply of the pandemic, as well as a wide range of themes including global availability of food, food safety and consumer confidence.
The bill also includes specific powers to create a permanent solution to the long-running spat over lost red meat levies from Scottish-born animals being slaughtered south of the border, as well as provision for the establishment of a UK-wide framework to ensure compliance with World Trade Organisation trading rules in relation to agriculture.
UK Government minister for Scotland, David Duguid, welcomed the passing of the bill and said: “We have delivered a vital piece of legislation which will help ensure that Scotland flourishes outside of the EU.”