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Jeremy's Blog - 7th May 2020

In the last couple of weeks, meetings with Government and others that had been solely focused on the Covid-19 virus have begun to talk about other business once again. Post-Brexit policy re-joins the virus as an accelerant for change. The Agriculture Bill, as a priority piece of post-Brexit-legislation, returns to the Commons next week so we can be ready for 2021. The Environment Bill will probably follow.

The negotiations over the future relationship with the EU have resumed with more detailed exploration of positions but a public level of tension. The UK is standing firm on EU expectations as to common standards, the European Court of Justice and control of fisheries, seeing all as the right of an independent country. While that tension may rise in coming weeks with the end of June deadline for agreeing an extension to the Transition Period, London seems clear that if a deal cannot be done by then using models agreed elsewhere by the EU, a deal cannot be done. The EU says there is too much to be done.

In other developments:

  • the UK/EU joint committee under the Withdrawal Agreement covering the Northern Ireland Protocol and so trade between Great Britain and the province has met
  • trade negotiations with the United States have opened.

In Parliament, no sooner had the Commons Procedure Committee approved the necessary electronic voting than the Leader of the House announced that the Agriculture Bill returns to the Commons next Wednesday, 13th, for its remaining stages after which it can go to the Lords.

The Agriculture Bill provides powers for post-Brexit support policy changes with England’s move to “public money for public goods”, productivity, animal welfare and plant health as well as for producer organisations, supply chain relationships, data collection, market management and other measures. It gives frameworks for Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland’s own Bill is ready for its Stage 2 process.

Directly for the CAAV, the Bill proposes changes to the Agricultural Holdings Act, including enabling parties to 1986 and 1995 tenancies to require the CAAV President to appoint an arbitrator. We have been working hard on the response to this prospective honour and duty and intend to come forward soon with proposals for this and, more largely, dispute resolution, seeing the needs for an appropriate, robust, timely and cost-effective offering to find answers to issues. The CAAV President could be appointing arbitrators on rent reviews from later this summer.

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