18 SEP 2018

EADT Column - 12th September 2018

"New legislation to deliver a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations was introduced in Parliament yesterday by my departmental colleague, Michael Gove. The Agriculture Bill sets out how farmers will in future be paid for "public goods", such as better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, public access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding. This will replace the current EU subsidy system of Direct Payments, which is ineffective and pays farmers based on the total amount of land farmed. The current payments are skewed towards the largest landowners and are not linked to any specific public benefits with the top 10% of recipients receiving almost 50% of total payments and the bottom 20% receiving just 2%. In its place, a new Environmental Land Management system will start from next year. Under our new system, farmers who provide the greatest environmental benefits will secure the largest rewards. Importantly we will work together with farmers to design, develop and trail the new approach. There will also be a seven year transition period, in which payments will still be made, to enable farmers to invest in new technologies and methods that boost productivity - allowing for a smooth and gradual move away from the Common Agricultural Policy, laying the foundations for a Green Brexit.

My Government Department continues to be one of the busiest in Westminster as we continue our campaign to improve animal welfare. Over the summer we announced a ban on third-party puppy and kitten sales in England. The ban will mean anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten must either deal directly with the breeder or with one of the nation's many animal rehoming centres. This step follows a commitment by the Prime Minister to crack down on cruel puppy farms. After the consultation on electric shock collars, Michael Gove has also announced that we will proceed with this but we will exempt those collars used for fencing, used by owners to give animals freedom but keep them safe from wandering off onto the highway. This is a sensible outcome and thank you to everyone who responded.

Finally, I'm pleased that Greater Anglia is investing in more ticket machines for its stations with Melton station set for a machine within the next two months. These are much needed facilities for passengers who can take advantage of advanced purchase rates and pick up tickets bought on-line. The information from Greater Anglia follows my request for a repair to Woodbridge's machine, which I'm assured is now in full working order."

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