The Agriculture Bill is very important draft legislation. We might expect it to define agriculture itself with a new definition fit for the 21st century and our post-Brexit future. But the closest it seems to get is clause 13 which tells us that ‘agriculture includes any growing of plants, and any keeping of creatures, for the production of food or drink’. Agriculture here is however, only defined in the narrow context of “agri-food supply chain(s)”. Nowhere in the bill does there seem to be a definition of agriculture for the bill’s broader purpose.
Contrast this with the vision of the 1947 Agriculture Act which told us that:
“agriculture” includes horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping, the use of land as grazing land, meadow land, osier land, market gardens and nursery grounds, and the use of land for woodlands where that use is ancillary to the farming of land for other agricultural purposes, and “agricultural” shall be construed accordingly.
What is more, the 1947 Act also defined good husbandry and good estate management. Good husbandry seems as apposite in 2018 as it did in 1947; perhaps the good estate management of the 1940’s is the good land management of the 21st century.
Should the new legislation be defining these matters for the 21st century, and if so what should the definitions be?