James Heappey Weekly Column

This week in Parliament, the Direct Payments to Farmers Bill has been debated and I wanted to mention the significance of this in my column. 

Representing a rural constituency, I will always support the farming community and I meet with the NFU, Farming Community Network and many other local farmers regularly.

Understandably, there has been a lot of uncertainty and nervousness following the three and a half years of Brexit debate but with a stable majority, we will now be able to provide a new system of farming support for when we leave the European Union.

The Bill has been introduced so Government can continue to administer direct payments for farmers this year – and Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid has confirmed these will be at the same level as last year. This certainty, I know, will be welcome after a turbulent few years.

Post-Brexit, it is important to note the Agriculture Bill will provide a new system of farm support, moving away from the direct payments towards an approach where farmers are paid public money for the ‘public goods’ they produce. These include enhancing air and water quality, tackling climate change and improving animal welfare – priorities which already exist for the hard-working farmers in this constituency and this country. 

Therefore, this welcome addition should fill our farmers with optimism for the future and I hope they know they are a key part of the Government’s priorities going forward. The meticulous work which goes into the running of their business is not going unnoticed by me, or by the Government. I look forward to continuing to work with the farming community over the next few years.