THE NSA has cautiously welcomed the reintroduction of the Agriculture Bill, along with the changes made since its previous outing before Parliament.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “This Bill is an essential legally binding platform that will provide fundamental commitments and enable secondary legislation to be made, and we absolutely welcome it in that context. Progress is needed and we hope there is no further delay, although this doesn’t mean the process should be rushed and not allow thorough consideration.

“We are pleased to see mention of food security reporting to Parliament, and we await industry engagement with the food strategy as there must be alignment between these two policy strands. Likewise, we welcome funding commitments over the Parliamentary term and the seven-year transition period.

"However, this is such a significant change in direction that we are keen to see ongoing evaluation of the success (or failure) of changes in policy and support. The aspiration to create a fairer supply chain is commendable but we would like to see commitments to protect our farmers from products of lower standards, particularly if we see a strong drive to increase environmental and welfare standards here in England.”

The NSA said it was also pleased to see soil health being recognised in the Bill. Mr Stocker added: “Grassland generally, and the inclusion of sheep in arable rotations contributes hugely to soil health, building soil organic matter, improving the availability of soil nutrients, and providing a foundation for above and below ground life forms. This policy measure could recognise and reward good soil management in permanent pasture situations as well as encourage the reintroduction of sheep within arable rotations – something most conservation bodies would welcome.“

The NSA said it would continue to look at the Bill and would share information with members across its communication platforms.