Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

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Agriculture in the new UK policy landscape - support, the payment system, land management, productivity, sustainability, and regulatory reform

April 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will assess the key priorities for taking forward UK agriculture policy in the context of implementation of the Agriculture Act and the UK’s exit from the EU.

We are delighted to be able to include a ministerial address at this conference from Victoria Prentis MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Defra.

Areas for discussion include:

  • the new payment system - managing the transition and priorities for collaboration, support, and engagement with the agriculture sector
  • environmental land management - lessons from the pilots, fair measurement of the value of public goods, and taking into account the needs of farmers in more challenging settings
  • regulation - setting and enforcing requirements and standards, coordination and support, and the way forward for simplification
  • productivity and sustainability - achieving both economic and environmental goals, building net-zero into the future of agriculture, and priority areas for innovation, research and investment

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from Defra; BEIS; the Committee on Climate Change; the Environment Agency; the Forestry Commission; DAERA, NI; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; HM Revenue & Customs; the National Audit Office; The Scottish Government; The Planning Inspectorate; the Welsh Government; the Department for International Trade; and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The seminar is supported by The Icon Group, and organised on the basis of strict impartiality by the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum.

The agenda

  • The future for UK agricultural policy following EU exit
  • ‘Successfully applying the concept of paying for environmental public goods’
  • Priorities for managing the transition to the new payment system, inclusive approaches for effective delivery, and taking forward wider new national agricultural policy
  • Land use, resource management and the future for productivity in the new rural policy landscape
  • Delivering effective environmental land management - pilot progress, practicalities and support for farmers, the future for land use, resource management and productivity, and aligning with net-zero emission targets
  • Next steps for agriculture policy in the UK

Key areas for discussion:

  • the Agriculture Act - taking forward the new national policy for agriculture in the UK, following exit from the EU and the transition from CAP payments, looking at:
    • priorities for effective implementation
    • opportunities for working collaboratively to achieve successful delivery
    • engagement with the sector throughout the process
  • transition and support - managing the transition to the new payment system, including:
    • the £1m Future Farming Resilience Funding Scheme - its impact in supporting farmers and providing guidance for the move towards the new approach to farming
    • addressing concerns over a lack of clarity on the latter years of the transition period for payments
    • the Government’s future subsidy approach - priorities for its development, and concerns that a UK approach to the agriculture industry around this would not be appropriate due to its devolved nature
  • payments - the impact of moving towards a system of payment based on public goods, as well as:
    • ways that payments can incentivise the use of sustainable practices and provide a benefit to farmers
    • assessing the phased reduction of payments, and mitigating the impact of transition on farm businesses
    • addressing concerns around tenant farmer access to new payments
  • environmental land management:
    • pilots so far - assessing progress, and lessons learnt to inform the development of the scheme, including around planning, payments, collaboration, guidance and delivery
    • measuring value:
      • latest thinking and approaches to fairly and effectively assessing environmental outcomes
      • options for accommodating the situation of farmers in more environmentally challenging areas
    • implementation - priorities for the successful application of paying for environmental public goods, and for making it work
    • land use and resource management - evaluating the environmental benefits and long-term opportunities, as well as:
      • impact of the payment transition - what the move to a payment system based on public money for public goods means for the future of land use and how resources are managed
      • priorities for local nature recovery - including habitat, species and natural flood management, as well as landscape recovery
  • regulation - next steps for reform, including:
    • balancing minimum requirements with standards that farmers are paid to exceed
    • making the regulatory system more supportive and advisory
    • how to simplify and improve coordination in the regulatory landscape for farming
  • improving productivity:
    • the contribution and role of productivity as part of the future outlook for farming
    • how the drive for productivity sits alongside environmental policy aims
    • identifying priority areas for innovation, research and investment
  • net-zero - building climate adaptation and the meeting of decarbonisation targets into the future of agriculture:
    • the potential contribution of environmental management schemes and how they should be configured
    • supporting the sector to deliver the action required, at a time of considerable change and transition
    • what more needs to be done to meet the net-zero agenda

The policy context:

  • the Agriculture Act - setting out the future for UK agriculture policy following the UK leaving the EU, and the move away from CAP to a public money for public goods system
  • Environmental Land Management: test and trials - an update from Defra including findings so far around planning, guidance, collaboration, payments and delivery
  • The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024 - from Defra:
    • setting out the agricultural transition period as the UK leaves the EU
    • outlining the phased reduction of direct payments, and the development and introduction of environmental land management schemes
  • Farming Innovation Pathways - the competition launched by UKRI and Defra looking to advance research and development in agricultural innovation to address farming challenges, with funding split between feasibility projects and industrial research
  • National food strategy for England - the independent review led by Henry Dimbleby, with recommendations on addressing systemic food chain challenges in agriculture, sustainability and the environment
  • the Environment Secretary’s speech at the NFU conference 2021 - outlining the future of agriculture, and inviting farmers to take part in the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot, with expressions of interest being accepted in March
  • Trade and Agriculture Commission: Final Report - with recommendations including that Government must maintain high food standards for imports in any future trade deal
  • Subsidy control: designing a new approach for the UK - the Government’s closed consultation on the development of a national domestic subsidy approach, which works across the UK, following exit from the EU

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament and the House of Commons Library, and officials from BEIS; the Committee on Climate Change; DAERA, NI; Defra; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; the Department for International Trade; the Environment Agency; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; the Forestry Commission; HM Revenue & Customs; the National Audit Office; The Scottish Government; The Planning Inspectorate; the Valuation Office Agency and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of public policy, together with representatives of the agriculture and food and drink industry - including associations, manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers - local government officials, representatives of the agritech and crop science industries, environmental and conservation groups, academics, lawyers and consultancies, international attendees, charities and consumer groups, together with reporters from the national and trade media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles