On 21st July House of Lords debated amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill, during its Committee stage. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, spoke to amendments on maintaining food security during he movement to the new farm payments scheme.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will say a few words about the transition period and, in particular, in support of Amendments 150 to 154 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Rock, which have the support of the National Farmers Union and the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, among others.
These amendments focus on funding during the transition period and touch on the vital importance of maintaining food security during the period when we are moving over to the new payment scheme. Cash flow is a major problem for many organisations, and in some cases it has been a factor in businesses, and indeed farms, going bankrupt. It has become a huge problem during the Covid-19 lockdown, and it threatens many people’s livelihoods. It has also been an ongoing problem for farmers, who have sometimes had to wait long periods before receiving payments. We know that any new systems need time to bed in, so these amendments make allowance for any problems in the implementation of the new scheme, and I support them.
I am also supportive of Amendment 149 in the name of the noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington, and the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, as are number of your Lordships. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response on the need to take special care of small farmers and less favoured areas where farming is extremely vulnerable, which need our support during this time.