PARTS of the Government’s new Agriculture Bill, which has been called ‘monumental’ for the farming industry, were welcomed in Cumbria, although there were reservations about certain aspects of it.

Described by the Guardian as “the biggest shake-up of British agriculture in 40 years”, the bill, which has been aired in Parliament for the first time, marks a move towards a system of 'public money for public goods', with the European Union (EU)-funded Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to be phased out from next year.

“This is a monumental moment for agriculture,” said Jeremy Moody, secretary and advisor to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers. “We have a life-changing opportunity to review the national expectations of agriculture and set out the tools and support to achieve this.”

While much of the the bill was welcomed in Cumbria, there were concerns expressed over parts of it, such as an apparent lack of commitment to preventing low-quality imports of food post-Brexit.

Conservative councillor James Airey, who farms near Ulverston, said: “Overall the bill sounds fine. There is a recognition in the bill of the good work that farmers do not only in producing food but also in looking after the environment.”

However, he added: “We need to make sure that any food that we are importing is meeting the high welfare standards that our farmers [in the UK] adhere to.”

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said the Agriculture Bill represented a move “in the right direction” but expressed severe concern about a perceived lack of detail from the Government over replacement of the BPS.

“Unless this is urgently addressed then hill farming for many will become unviable with that having serious repercussions on the Cumbrian economy and our beautiful landscape. Our hard-working local farmers deserve better,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the National Trust said the Lake District had a "unique stake" in farming, particularly as the industry continued to 'shape' the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the "landscape loved by millions".

She said, looking ahead, priorities for the trust would include "investing in infrastructure for farms" and "supporting the growing number of new tenants taking on our farms", adding: "As a conservation charity our long-term priorities are tackling the current climate and nature crisis through our land management.

"We want to work hand in hand with our tenants to see how we can do this together. These priorities are absolutely aligned to the ambitions of the new Agriculture Bill."

David Harpley, conservation manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, said "a lot" depended on the detail of the Agriculture Bill moving forward.

However, he added: "There's an enormous amount of stuff that Cumbria farmers could do and would enormously benefit the Cumbrian environment and our wildlife."