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Leaving the EU: Finance

Volume 630: debated on Thursday 26 October 2017

Leaving the EU is a great opportunity to design a new agriculture policy that is fit for purpose in the 21st century. As we develop plans for a new agriculture Bill, we are considering how best to deploy the financial support committed to agriculture and the farmed environment. At the heart of that policy will be a focus on delivering environmental outcomes and improving soil health. Other measures under consideration will address issues such as productivity, animal welfare and risk management.

I thank the Minister for that response, in particular on the need to increase productivity in the farming sector. What consideration has he given to potential changes in taxes, to encourage more investment in machinery and technology post-Brexit?

As part of our work on innovation, we are considering grants to support investment in farms. Tax policy is obviously a matter for Treasury Ministers, but there are already annual investment allowances to support investment in farm machinery, and many farmers make use of them.

The uplands have some of the most important environmental benefits in the country, but the farmers have extremely marginal incomes. Will the Minister therefore commit to making no cuts to the support for hill farmers in the uplands?

We are doing quite a lot of analysis of sectors of the industry that could be affected by any future reform in agriculture policy. The hon. Lady is right to say that some farmers in the uplands are more financially vulnerable, and we are taking that into account. We have also been very clear that any change we implement would have a transition period to ensure that people can adjust.