Sustainable Farming Incentive and crustacean mortality

Debate on two Commons Statements: Agricultural Transition (from EU) and crustacean mortality here

My questions in the debate: 

First, the Minister is very enthusiastic about the number of farmers who would take it up. Does he have any estimate or is that too difficult to find? Secondly, what happens about monitoring practices of farmers who do not sign up? Is there a process for that?

On the crabs, Gary Caldwell, a senior lecturer in applied marine biology at Newcastle University—so, a well-respected expert—says that there is no direct evidence for disease among the crabs, and that very high levels of pyridine were found in the crab carcasses. The next stage of dredging will move a million cubic metres of riverbed seven miles out to sea. The noble Baroness asking the previous question asked whether there will be very careful monitoring of that so that we do not have a repeat occurrence.

Lord Benyon  replied for HMG: On the farmer situation, about 2,200 have entered the sustainable farming incentive to date. That is not particularly surprising, because the amount of money that was available was between £22 and £60 a hectare, and now there will be considerably more. There will be farmers who will not join the scheme because they can farm profitability without support, or for whatever reason. We monitor or collect data from farms right across the country. It is vital that we do, so that we know what crops are being planted and where. It will feed a very important piece of strategic work that I am sure the noble Baroness will support: the land use framework, which is coming forward. The noble Baroness referred to Dr Gary Caldwell. Professor Henderson has been in touch with him on a number of occasions. There was a rumour that he had somehow been excluded. There is a paper trail of emails between Professor Henderson and Dr Caldwell. I can only rely on the evidence we have seen, in the report from the 12 eminent scientists, that indicated that the levels of pyridine were “very unlikely” to be responsible—we have to be very precise in our language here. We will keep our minds open and make sure that developments in that area address the points the noble Baroness makes.

Read the whole debate here: Agricultural Transition Plan – Hansard – UK Parliament