Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Post-Brexit agricultural policy

CPRE has two main asks for future agricultural policy to provide benefits to our unique landscapes, rural economies and food quality:

  1. Measures should be introduced which enhance landscapes; to increase high quality landscapes all can access and enjoy.
  2. Government should help develop a dynamic, innovative sector, accessible to new entrants, by developing measures, which reverse the loss of farms, particularly small ones.

Landscapes

Protecting the landscape has been a core aim for CPRE since its foundation. The creation of a new domestic agricultural policy will affect how our countryside is managed, as 70% of land in England is farmed. CPRE want to ensure that these changes support farmers to protect and improve our beautiful landscapes, rather than see them deteriorate. We propose that measures should be introduced to support farmers to enhance landscapes to strengthen character and create newly functional landscapes. This would bring many benefits, such as:

  • ensuring our countryside is more varied and full of character
  • restoring wildlife and biodiversity by improving and creating a range of habitats
  • reducing the effects and risk of climate change
  • and bringing many other benefits, such as increasing our access to the countryside

By using a variety of landscape features, such as hedgerows and trees, in the right places, particular functions and benefits can be achieved. This can be done by increasing the land area under agri-environment options, promoting locally specific environmental measures, and modifying the scheme to make it more accessible for farmers.

Farm size diversity

Over the past few decades, the number of farms in England has declined dramatically, with more than a fifth of farms being lost in just 10 years (2005-2015). This loss is partly a result of the misguided Common Agricultural Policy, which pays the largest land owners the most, neglecting smaller farmers. However, England has lost the greatest percentage of farms compared to other EU countries.

The loss of smaller and family farms has a severe effect on the local communities of which they are part. This is because smaller farms employ more people for a given land area, provide a variety of crucial rural services, are a more affordable option for new farm entrants and are often better integrated within rural communities.

Therefore, CPRE recommends that measures are introduced that allow smaller farms access to support and finance. These measures should be designed to help smaller farms innovate, improve and develop sustainable businesses.

This particular issue is explored further in our 2017 report Uncertain Harvest: does the loss of farms matter?

2018 consultation response

In May 2018, CPRE responded to the Government's consultation on the future agricultural policy post-Brexit, 'Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit'.

In it, we welcome the Government’s commitments to reversing environmental damage, linking public funding to the delivery of public benefits and maintaining high standards in trade agreements. However, we address our two key issues as noted above, as well as the need for long term public investment in the environment through farming if we are to deliver the 25 year environment plan.

We also call for more action to improve soils to benefit both farming and the environment, more Government-funded advice to accompany these policy changes and the piloting of innovative schemes such as support for whole farm approaches.

Read our full response to the consultation

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