The Agriculture Bill returns to parliament on Wednesday 13th May – this will be the last opportunity for MPs to amend the bill, which could kick-start a green recovery by enabling nature to be restored after decades of loss, before it passes to the House of Lords.
The bill will become one of the first pieces of legislation to be voted on by the House of Commons’ new virtual voting procedures – an apt piece of legislation since lockdown conditions have triggered a surge of interest in people seeking solace in nature.
A large part of our nature is dependent on the way that we manage the 70% of land which is farmed. We live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and The Wildlife Trusts believe that the focus of the Agriculture Bill must be to reward farmers for public goods – in other words, to switch from the old system of paying farmers for owning land to a reformed system of paying them for their role in fighting the climate and nature crises and delivering benefits to society for which the market cannot pay.
In practice, this means rewarding farmers for restoring hedgerows and wildflower meadows, for creating wetlands that filter agri-chemicals and protect rivers and our drinking water from pollution, and for protecting soils so they can capture carbon, sustain future harvests and not be washed into rivers.