• In Focus

    Impact of climate change and biodiversity loss on food security

    The world is currently experiencing a food crisis. UK consumers are also facing rapid food price inflation. Both the UK government and international bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have identified climate change and biodiversity loss as major contributing factors to food insecurity in the UK and around the world. This briefing considers the nature and extent of this impact and government policies to improve UK food security.

  • Research Briefing

    Marine Protected Areas (Bottom Trawling) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 33 of 2022–23

    The Marine Protected Areas (Bottom Trawling) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill by Lord Randall of Uxbridge (Conservative). The bill was introduced in the House of Lords on his behalf by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (Green Party). Amongst its provisions, the bill would require the secretary of state to make provision in regulations “to regulate and limit” the use of bottom trawling in marine protected areas, including a general prohibition on bottom trawling with the possibility for exceptions to support small-scale fisheries in areas where the practice would not cause serious environmental damage.

  • In Focus

    UK-India trade agreement: Scrutiny of the government’s negotiating objectives

    The UK and India are currently negotiating a free trade agreement. In July 2022, the House of Lords International Agreements Committee published a report on the government’s negotiating objectives. The report welcomed the aspiration to secure a trade deal with India. However, the committee was critical of some aspects of the negotiating objectives as vague, high level and, in some cases, unachievable. The report also criticised the speed of the negotiations, which the government wants to complete by October 2022.

  • In Focus

    Relationship between health and food production

    There has been notable scrutiny of the link between health and food, including in 2020 by an ad hoc committee in the House of Lords. It found that the UK food system was failing to enable people to make healthy and affordable dietary choices. This briefing examines those findings and the challenges faced by both consumers and the UK agri-food sector, and the government’s policy response.

  • In Focus

    Rising cost of agricultural fertiliser and feed: Causes, impacts and government policy

    Agricultural fertiliser and feed prices have increased significantly in recent months. The price rises have been driven largely by global pressures including increased demand, the war in Ukraine and higher energy costs. Record prices are pushing up costs for farmers as well as for consumers via the cost of produce and animal products. The government has announced a range of measures in response, including more frequent payment of subsidies and a sustainable farming initiative.

  • In Focus

    Pig farming industry in England

    Pig farmers have faced a number of pressures in recent months, including labour shortages and rising costs of production. The National Pig Association has described the situation as a “crisis”. This article summarises the findings of a recent House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report on labour shortages in the farming sector. In addition, it explores reaction to the government’s package of support measures for the pig industry.

  • In Focus

    Ash dieback and the health of English trees

    Threats to UK trees have risen due to factors such as globalisation and climate change. The government has responded with a tree health resilience strategy, an England trees action plan and an updated plant biosecurity strategy. However, certain pests and diseases remain high-risk, including ash dieback. Several organisations are seeking to breed ash trees that are resilient to the disease and the government has published a strategy for preserving ashes.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Agriculture, the natural environment and animal welfare

    The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto included commitments to protect the natural environment and improve animal welfare. However, the Government has yet to fulfil its manifesto commitment to introduce legislation banning imports of hunting trophies. The Government has proposed changes to the ways in which natural landscapes are managed following the 2019 landscapes review. It has also said it is considering measures to permit greater use of some gene-edited organisms in agriculture.

  • In Focus

    Game Birds (Cage Breeding) Bill [HL]

    The Game Birds (Cage Breeding) Bill [HL] would make it an offence to keep pheasants or partridges in raised laying cages or battery cages for the purpose of producing eggs. Currently, the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes recommends that barren raised cages for breeding pheasants and small barren cages for breeding partridges should not be used, and any system should be appropriately enriched.

  • In Focus

    Changing the regulation of certain genetically modified plants: motion not to approve new laws

    New regulations would ease the regulatory process for the environmental release of certain genetically modified plants, for the purposes of their research and development. The Government believes the changes would make it easier for scientists to research possible innovations to improve agricultural crops. However, the regulations have attracted a lot of criticism and concerns. This article sets out some of the issues that have been raised ahead of a Lords debate on 14 March 2022 about whether the regulations should become law.

  • In Focus

    Glue Traps (Offences) Bill

    The Glue Traps (Offences) Bill is a private member’s bill that would make it an offence to use glue traps in England. Many groups consider the devices to be inhumane as they can cause trapped rodents and other animals to suffer. A licensing regime would permit exceptions for licenced pest controllers to use glue traps in exceptional circumstances.

  • In Focus

    Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill

    The Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill is a private member’s bill which would enable the secretary of state to introduce fixed penalty notices for certain offences in relation to animals and animal products.