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Jeremy's Blog 4th June 2021: Regulation

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 3rd June 2021.

The DEFRA lump sum and delinking consultation expressly notes that:
“Delinking will also bring an end to the “cross compliance” system for BPS recipients. Cross compliance is currently integral to how we regulate many of our important environmental and animal health and welfare legislative standards.”
Wales will face that with the move from BPS to the Sustainable Farming Scheme.

In its place, the new post-BPS world will use a regulatory baseline to expect common standards of all land management, set in law. Outside the EU, more proportionate approaches are emerging and there may be civil penalties where action is needed (save in the worst cases).

Regulations are very largely about prohibiting matters, banning lower standards and preventing damage. As achieving positive change often needs other tools with incentives, the new schemes are to pay for achievement above the regulatory baseline which can be expected to rise and buy what the market will not pay for.

With the existing but growing concern over water quality across the UK, point source pollution could be tackled by regulation (as with silage and slurry storage) but diffuse pollution has needed additional tools to change behaviour. While the new Welsh rules on slurry storage and spreading are simply where other parts of UK are going, government and water company agri-environment agreements can prevent initial contamination and avoid the greater costs of cleaning water by buffering water courses.

Even so and already seen in Northern Ireland, growing concerns about phosphates as well as nitrates are now bringing more specific pressures in the Solent area, the Somerset Levels and elsewhere, with challenge and the opportunities of deals for land management. Coming environmental legislation, bodies and targets will only increase official pressure.

Other pressures for change come from ammonia for air quality, biodiversity and the larger issue of climate change to which the Queen’s Speech has added a stress on animal welfare for which we expect the combined toolbox of:

  • the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway – supporting health for productivity and welfare as a public good
  • increasing regulation from controlling movements and exports to methods of production and slaughter, the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill to come.

all of which could bear on livestock management and housing on the farm. With experience, as with pigs, suggesting that the public may expect animal welfare but only rarely to pay more for it, this becomes a key “Public Money for Public Goods” issue.

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