Update on the development of future agricultural policy frameworks in the four UK administrations

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, the future agricultural policy frameworks in the four administrations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are starting to take shape. This briefing provides an overview of the current state of play, focussing on their environmental aspects and ambitions.

During 2019, the structure and content of future agricultural and land use policies in each of the four UK administrations have continued to take shape as part of the transition away from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. This briefing, commissioned by the Land Use Policy Group (LUPG) of the UK environmental statutory agencies, provides an update on the policy processes currently underway, the timetable for the introduction of the new frameworks and a brief summary of some of the key similarities and differences between the approaches taken.

Although uncertainty around Brexit has made it difficult to progress legislative measures, preparations within agricultural departments continue. Key issues remain the need for a commitment to multi-annual funding for future agricultural policy and for baseline (including environmental) standards, not least to ensure that imports are not permitted that do not meet UK standards.

The high profile of climate change during the last year has helped to stimulate an enhanced political and technical debate about the role of land use, agriculture and forestry in addressing the climate emergencies; Increasing tree cover has become more of a priority in several parts of the UK.

Whilst timescales differ, moving towards more sustainable agricultural systems which look after natural resources and promote natural capital is a theme in all proposals to a greater or lesser extent. Greater attention is also starting to be paid to the role agriculture can play in reducing GHG emissions. All four administrations include a reference to the fact that looking after the environment and productivity go hand in hand and commit to some form of environmental baseline, although details are not yet clear.

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