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Agricultural Policy: Farmers

Volume 690: debated on Thursday 4 March 2021

Since 2018, we have been working with farmers to build up ideas and gain their insights. So far, more than 3,000 farmers have helped us to develop aspects of our new approach through 72 tests and trials. Our co-design approach includes the sustainable farming incentive pilot, which will open for expressions of interest shortly. We will also be working with farmers on various consultations and on policies, in particular to address the causes of poor profitability.

Last year, I visited a dairy farm near Penistone in my constituency that is using new technologies to increase efficiency and improve yields. That is a great example of innovation in farming that can lead to a bright future for the dairy industry. Can my right hon. Friend tell me how his Department is supporting farmers to remove barriers to adopting new technologies that they need so that they can become more competitive?

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. Dairy businesses such as the one she refers to in her constituency are embracing technology and innovation, and we want to support them to go further. Over the last three years, we have provided around £75 million to farmers to help them purchase new and innovative technology. From autumn this year, the new farming investment fund will help farmers, including those in the dairy sector, to build on the progress already made by offering them grants. We will also be launching a new approach, with research and development syndicates to support individual farm businesses with research and development of technology.