Advocates for Animals

Making full use of the law to protect animals

Blog: Seizing the Opportunity in Brexit

Cows on grass

One of the largest events in the UK’s political history is set to take place in 2019, with the UK’s exit from the European Union. While it is unclear what the future holds for the UK, the new Agriculture Bill may shed some light on the future of agriculture and its relationship with the environment in the UK.

The EU splits its funding into two pillars. The majority of its funding (around 80%) goes into pillar 1 schemes, while the rest goes into pillar 2 schemes, which are programmes aimed at protecting the environment and improving farm productivity.

Basic standards of environmental protection and animal welfare are achieved via a series of rules and regulations, called cross-compliance. The costs of breaching the rules, and the required remedies, having to be carried by the farmer.

These standards only cover the bare bones requirements. The limited powers of these standards combined with the relatively small amount of funding behind them explains why the EU has a poor reputation with environmentalists and animal rights campaigners.

As it stands, Brexit may actually present an opportunity for the UK to implement a more purpose-built British Agricultural Policy. Michael Gove’s Agriculture Bill proposes a new Environmental Land Management system in which farmers will be rewarded for benefiting the environment, with measures aimed at enhancing research and development programmes.

The Common Agricultural Policy’s original intentions were good, but those intentions were not aimed at protecting animal welfare or environmental standards. This has resulted in large-scale losses in numbers of farmland bird species, deterioration of soil and large losses of UK habitats and wildlife. The New Agriculture Bill provides an opportunity for farmers, environmental groups and the wider public to work together to improve the UK’s environmental standards.

Oliver Gent
Graduate Diploma in Law
University of Law Bloomsbury

We are grateful to everyone who contributes to the Advocates for Animals blog. Blogs should not be taken as legal advice nor do they necessarily reflect the views of the firm

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