Agriculture Bill revisions bring new focus on soil health

Ministers have tweaked the text of the Agriculture Bill to emphasise safeguarding and improving soil quality, but the latest version of the flagship legislation does not include any binding commitment to uphold food standards after Brexit.

The bill, which was introduced in parliament today, retains plans to introduce an environment land management scheme (ELM) - agricultural subsidies that reward farmers for providing public goods such as clean water and biodiversity - but stresses the importance of “protecting or improving the quality of soil”.

Soil health was not explicitly mentioned as one of the public goods to be supported in the earlier version of the bill, which fell when the December general election was called. It had simply referred to “managing land or water in a way that protects or improves the environment”. 

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