MP briefing - Agriculture Bill

The Agriculture Bill will shape the countryside for generations to come. The decisions made in the coming weeks and months will have far reaching consequences for our ability to access the outdoors.

Why the Bill matters for walking

Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of land use in the UK. This land contains a significant proportion of the nation’s paths, and farmers already have legal duties to keep paths on their land clear. The Agriculture Bill will introduce new rules to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This will set the agenda for how the countryside is managed long into the future. 

Our ambition is for the Agriculture Bill to enable people to access and enjoy the countryside via our fantastic path network for generations to come. The path network helps people learn more about the important work undertaken by farmers, benefits tourism and local businesses, and has a positive impact on our health and well-being. 

What we need from the Bill

The Agriculture Bill should enable the following: 

  • Enhancing access to the countryside - The Bill should include provisions that enable public payments to go to farmers where they provide new routes for the public or take steps to make the existing network more accessible.  
  • Protecting the existing path network - Farmers who receive public payments should be expected to fulfil their existing legal duties to keep paths on their land clear. The Bill should establish minimum standards expected of farmers who receive public money. 

The Agriculture Bill in the last Parliament

The Agriculture Bill was first introduced during the last parliament, in September 2018, but fell before receiving Royal Assent. During its passage through parliament, amendments were tabled which would have benefited Britain’s walkers:

  • Enhance our access to the countryside – Farmers should be rewarded for exceeding their legal duties. The Bill should include provisions that enable public payments to go to farmers where they provide new routes for the public or take steps to make the existing network more accessible. Amendment 11, tabled by Caroline Lucas MP, sought to achieve this.
  • Protect our path network – Farmers who receive public payments should be expected to fulfil their existing legal duties to keep paths on their land clear. The Bill should establish a ‘regulatory baseline’ detailing the minimum standards expected of farmers who receive public money. Amendment 28, tabled by Angela Smith MP, sought to achieve this.
Please support us

During the Agriculture Bill’s passage through Parliament we will be updating this page with more information about the ways in which it relates to public access to the outdoors. 

For further information or to discuss in greater detail, please contact us at policy@ramblers.org.uk or on 020 3961 3300.

You can also show your support on social media by sharing what the path network means to your constituents @RamblersGB #YourPathAwaits.

Thank you for your support.

Path protectors

Meet our path protectors

From walkers to photographers to micro adventurers, find out why people want to keep paths open, and let us know why you want to protect paths.