Environment Secretary Michael Gove is set to announce plans to pay farmers bigger public subsidies for taking better care of their livestock.
The proposals are part of Government plans for what Gove calls a ‘green Brexit’ – farming subsidies controlled by Brussels could be redirected to support farmers improve welfare conditions.
Under the plans, more funding would also be allocated to farmers who encourage the public to understand farming better by opening up their land allowing people to ‘connect’ with them.
Giving a speech at the National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham today, Gove will say: “I believe investing in higher animal welfare standards and investing in improved training and education for those in agriculture and food production are clear public goods.”
The latest plans are part of a raft of proposals to battle with Labour over animal welfare and environmental standards.
Last week Labour released a strategy for boosting animal welfare across the UK. One of the headline-grabbing policies was banning foie gras imports – which Gove is now also reportedly considering.
The Conservative Party is traditionally not considered to be interested in animal welfare, as many of its MPs support blood sports like fox hunting – but Gove appears to be trying to overturn this image and appeal to young people.
Giving a speech at the National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham today, Gove will say: “We have a high baseline for animal health standards, which we will continue to enforce.
“However, we could also support industry-led initiatives to improve these standards, especially in cases where animal welfare remains at the legislative minimum.
“This may include pilot schemes that offer payments to farmers delivering higher welfare outcomes, or payments to farmers running trial approaches and technologies to improve animal welfare that are not yet an industry standard.”
Farmers who open up their land to encourage members of the public to feel more “connected” to the countryside will receive more cash, he will say.