In May 2010, the Prime Minister appointed me as a Government Whip. In my role I have responsibility for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Education, and Private Members’ Bills. As a result I am unable to accept the invitation to speak about this Bill. However, I can still provide the Government position on this issue.
The Government is strongly committed to sustainable farming and to protecting the environment. The Government is fully aware of the environmental issues surrounding livestock farming and has been setting out its plan to create more sustainability in the food chain. The Coalition agreement stated that the Government understands the need to protect the environment for future generations and to make our economy more environmentally sustainable. Much more is needed to be done in order to support our farming industry and create a sustainable food supply.
The Government will be considering the proposals of this Bill once it has been published before making any decision.
Industry initiatives supported by Government include the commitment by the agricultural industry’s Climate Change Task Force to voluntarily deliver agriculture’s target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, product roadmaps delivering measurable progress towards reducing environmental impacts in the dairy, beef, sheep, and pig meat sectors, and increasing interest from food supply chains in their carbon footprints and the wider environmental and social impacts of the products they procure.
Additionally, research on alternatives to the use of soy bean meal as a livestock feedstuff has been commissioned by Defra to be delivered in 2012, and the Government (with contributions from the Devolved Administrations) has recently announced funding for three years for a research and development programme to improve the agriculture greenhouse gas inventory for the agricultural sector to ensure we have the science led evidence on which to base future policy.
It should be recognised that the impact of the livestock sector on the global environment is just one aspect of a complex matrix of policy issues that the Government is addressing related to food security, diet and health, animal welfare, landscape and biodiversity management, and the competitiveness and resilience of the agricultural sector. We believe that a balanced, holistic approach to all these issues based on sound evidence is the key to delivering the most desirable outcome.