Agriculture Act 2020

Citation2020 c. 21
JurisdictionUK Non-devolved


Agriculture Act 2020

2020 Chapter 21

An Act to authorise expenditure for certain agricultural and other purposes; to make provision about direct payments following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about payments in response to exceptional market conditions affecting agricultural markets; to confer power to modify retained direct EU legislation relating to agricultural and rural development payments and public market intervention and private storage aid; to make provision about reports on food security; to make provision about the acquisition and use of information connected with food supply chains; to confer powers to make regulations about the imposition of obligations on business purchasers of agricultural products, marketing standards, organic products and the classification of carcasses; to make provision for reports relating to free trade agreements; to make provision for the recognition of associations of agricultural producers which may benefit from certain exemptions from competition law; to make provision about fertilisers; to make provision about the identification and traceability of animals; to make provision about red meat levy in Great Britain; to make provision about agricultural tenancies; to confer power to make regulations about securing compliance with the WTO Agreement on Agriculture; and for connected purposes.

[11 November 2020]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Financial assistance

PART 1

Financial assistance

CHAPTER 1

New financial assistance powers

S-1 Secretary of State’s powers to give financial assistance

1 Secretary of State’s powers to give financial assistance

(1) The Secretary of State may give financial assistance for or in connection with any one or more of the following purposes—

(a)

(a) managing land or water in a way that protects or improves the environment;

(b)

(b) supporting public access to and enjoyment of the countryside, farmland or woodland and better understanding of the environment;

(c)

(c) managing land or water in a way that maintains, restores or enhances cultural or natural heritage;

(d)

(d) managing land, water or livestock in a way that mitigates or adapts to climate change;

(e)

(e) managing land or water in a way that prevents, reduces or protects from environmental hazards;

(f)

(f) protecting or improving the health or welfare of livestock;

(g)

(g) conserving native livestock, native equines or genetic resources relating to any such animal;

(h)

(h) protecting or improving the health of plants;

(i)

(i) conserving plants grown or used in carrying on an agricultural, horticultural or forestry activity, their wild relatives or genetic resources relating to any such plant;

(j)

(j) protecting or improving the quality of soil.

(2) The Secretary of State may also give financial assistance for or in connection with either or both of the following purposes—

(a)

(a) starting, or improving the productivity of, an agricultural, horticultural or forestry activity;

(b)

(b) supporting ancillary activities carried on, or to be carried on, by or for a producer.

(3) Financial assistance may only be given in relation to England.

(4) In framing any financial assistance scheme, the Secretary of State must have regard to the need to encourage the production of food by producers in England and its production by them in an environmentally sustainable way.

(5) For the purposes of this section—

“ancillary activities” means selling, marketing, preparing, packaging, processing or distributing products deriving from an agricultural, horticultural or forestry activity;

“better understanding of the environment” includes better understanding of agroecology;

“conserving” includes restoring or enhancing—(a) a population of a relevant species;(b) in the case of animals or plants in the wild, a habitat;

“cultural or natural heritage” includes uplands and other landscapes;

“improving productivity”, in relation to carrying on an activity, includes—(a) improving the quality of any products deriving from the activity, and(b) improving the efficiency of the activity in terms of the resources used in, or in connection with, it;

“livestock” includes any creature kept for the production of food, drink, oils, fibres or leathers, or for the purpose of its use in the farming of land;

“producer” means a person who carries on, or is to carry on, an agricultural, horticultural or forestry activity.

(6) In this Chapter—

“financial assistance” means financial assistance under this section;

“financial assistance scheme” means a scheme for giving financial assistance made by the Secretary of State.

S-2 Financial assistance: forms, conditions, delegation and publication of information

2 Financial assistance: forms, conditions, delegation and publication of information

(1) Financial assistance may be given by way of grant, loan or guarantee or in any other form.

(2) Financial assistance may be given subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(3) The conditions may (among other things) include provision under which the financial assistance is to be repaid or otherwise made good (with or without interest).

(4) Financial assistance may be given to the maker or operator of a third party scheme in connection with expenditure involved in establishing or operating the scheme (including the provision of financial support).

(5) In subsection (4) “third party scheme” means a scheme for giving financial support for any one or more of the purposes in section 1(1) and (2) which is not made by the Secretary of State.

(6) The Secretary of State may delegate functions relating to the giving of financial assistance to any other person.

(7) Functions delegated under subsection (6) may include—

(a)

(a) the giving of guidance;

(b)

(b) the exercise of a discretion.

(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for or in connection with requiring the Secretary of State or another person to publish specified information about financial assistance which has been given.

(9) Information which may be specified includes information about—

(a)

(a) the recipient of the financial assistance;

(b)

(b) the amount of the financial assistance;

(c)

(c) the purpose for which the financial assistance was given.

(10) Regulations under subsection (8) are subject to affirmative resolution procedure.

(11) In this section “specified” means specified by regulations under subsection (8).

S-3 Financial assistance: checking, enforcing and monitoring

3 Financial assistance: checking, enforcing and monitoring

(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for or in connection with—

(a)

(a) checking whether eligibility criteria for receipt of financial assistance are met and the consequences, where financial assistance has already been given, if not;

(b)

(b) enforcing compliance with conditions subject to which financial assistance is given;

(c)

(c) monitoring the extent to which the purpose of financial assistance has been achieved;

(d)

(d) the investigation of suspected offences in connection with applications for, or receipt of, financial assistance.

(2) Regulations under subsection (1) may (among other things) include provision—

(a)

(a) about the provision of information;

(b)

(b) conferring powers of entry;

(c)

(c) conferring powers of inspection, search and seizure;

(d)

(d) about the process for determining if eligibility criteria, or conditions subject to which financial assistance is given, are met;

(e)

(e) about the keeping of records;

(f)

(f) about the recovery or making good of all or any part of financial assistance which has been given (with or without interest) or the withholding of all or any part of financial assistance;

(g)

(g) imposing monetary penalties (including penalties calculated by reference to the amount of financial assistance);

(h)

(h) prohibiting a person from receiving financial assistance, or financial assistance of a specified description, for a specified period or until specified conditions are satisfied;

(i)

(i) about appeals;

(j)

(j) conferring functions (including functions involving the exercise of a discretion) on a person.

(3) Regulations under this section may not authorise entry to a private dwelling without a warrant issued by a justice of the peace.

(4) The provision which may be made under subsection (2)(f) includes provision for interest on any recoverable amount to be payable from such day (whether the day on which the financial assistance in question was given or a later day) as may be provided for in, or determined under, the regulations.

(5) Regulations under this section are subject to affirmative resolution procedure.

(6) In this section “specified” means specified by, or determined under, regulations under subsection (1).

S-4 Multi-annual financial assistance plans

4 Multi-annual financial assistance plans

(1) The Secretary of State must from time to time prepare a document (a “multi-annual financial assistance plan”) giving information about the expected use of the powers conferred on the Secretary of State by section 1 during the period to which the plan relates (the “plan period”).

(2) A multi-annual financial assistance plan must (as a minimum)—

(a)

(a) specify the plan period,

(b)

(b) set out the Government’s strategic priorities for giving financial assistance during the plan period, and

(c)

(c) describe, in such manner and giving such detail as the Secretary of State considers appropriate, each financial assistance scheme that—

(i) is in operation, or

(ii) the Secretary of State expects to come into operation during the plan period.

(3) The plan period for the first plan is the period of seven years beginning with 1 January 2021.

(4) The plan period for a subsequent plan may not be shorter than five years.

(5) The Secretary...

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