They say a week is a long time in politics, and the speed at which coronavirus has affected our lives, from a national lockdown to the associated political and legislative disruption, has certainly shown that to be true.
Whereas our last e-newsletter listed progress on all fronts of legislation in Westminster, that NFFN were working hard to influence, – including the Agriculture Bill, Trade Bill and Environment Bill – things have now slowed significantly. Weeks when we were expecting Second Readings and Third Readings of Bills have now passed, with no dates yet in sight for when we will be able to resume. With the Westminster Parliament still expected to return next week, albeit in a largely virtual sense, we await details for when and how much of this vital legislation will return for scrutiny.
This of course is not only felt in Westminster though but across all our nations, including Northern Ireland, where only a few months ago Stormont was back in business, after more than 1,000 days of suspension. The implications of new land-management and funding mechanisms for farmers affects all of us, so rest assured that we are working with colleagues across the UK to ensure that your voices are heard wherever you are.
Indeed, the current challenges doesn’t at all mean that our political engagement stops and at the NFFN, we are continuing to work hard to ensure that our goals and ambitions for the future are heard, especially in these difficult times.
Our asks remain the same, that the Agriculture Bill must ensure public money for public goods, high environmental standards for trade deals; to ensure that farmers in the UK are not undercut by imported food produced to lower standards, deliver strong baseline environmental regulations and a long-term funding commitment. It must enable farmers to produce safe, healthy food at the same time as helping our soil, landscapes, rivers and wildlife to recover and flourish.
We know that coronavirus has caused disruption to many of you and thank you to everyone who has shared with us how they are adapting to these challenges, from dealing with a lack of labour to the suspension of usual supply chains – we will certainly be incorporating any lessons learned into our messaging and policy asks.
Our recent report – Feeding The Nation: How Nature Friendly Farmers Are Responding To Covid-19 – showcases some wonderful case studies, demonstrating the value and impact of nature-friendly farming. These past few weeks have helped awaken an interest and cement an understanding in both decision-makers and consumers of the importance of farming. With your support, we will help build on this to ensure lasting change.
Robert Lingard, NFFN Parliamentary Liaison