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CPRE expressed disappointment at today’s announcement by Defra on how much money rural development measures, including green farming schemes, will receive. The Government has decided to limit to 12% the amount of money that will be transferred from payments to farmers for schemes that help wildlife and improve the quality of the countryside.

CPRE had called on the Government to transfer the maximum 15% from farming payments, to maximise the value for money to the public and to give wildlife habitats and landscape features the support they need. However, CPRE is pleased that Defra has recognised concerns that the new green farming scheme needs to make maintaining landscape character a higher priority.

Ian Woodhurst, Senior Farming Campaigner said: ‘CPRE is disappointed that the Government has failed to give the countryside and the public what they deserve by not giving green farming schemes the funding boost they needed. We have serious concerns that the new green farming scheme will be severely limited in its scope; particularly when it comes to improving the quality of our much loved landscapes that are so vital to the rural economy.’

 

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Two influential charities, supported by Bill Bryson and Deborah Meaden, have come together to campaign for swift action by Government and industry to tackle the chronic failures of the UK milk market.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) believe that for too long there has been a cycle of boom and bust resulting in lost livelihoods and economic uncertainty for dairy farmers. This has driven more and more of them out of business with damaging consequences for our landscapes, local food production, animal welfare and consumers.

Recently, many dairy farmers have had the price they receive for their milk cut by some processors with further cuts being proposed, meaning the price they receive is less than what it costs to produce their milk. As a result, it is likely even more dairy farmers will be forced to sell their cows and leave farming altogether. This could leave the UK more reliant on imports of milk produced to poorer welfare standards, undermining the vital role of dairy farmers in managing our much loved pastoral landscapes.

The two organisations are calling for:

  • Consumers to only buy milk from retailers who pay dairy farmers a fair price for their milk. Currently, ASDA, Morrisons, and the Co-Op do not have pricing mechanisms that adequately reflect the cost of milk production [1].
  • Milk processors and dairies (including Arla, Dairy Crest and Robert Wiseman Dairies) to commit to introducing a pricing mechanism that recognises the cost of production [2].
  • The Government to ensure that the Groceries Code Adjudicator has the necessary powers to investigate contracts between farmers, retailers and processors to ensure farmers are being treated fairly [3].

Bill Bryson, CPRE Vice President, says: “If you do a fair day's work you deserve fair pay for what you produce. But for too long dairy farmers have been at the mercy of opportunistic price cuts that have driven more and more of them out of business.”

WSPA supporter and Dragon’s Den investor Deborah Meaden says: “I have been shocked by the recent unrest in the UK milk market – our UK dairy supply chain is currently weighted towards a situation where supermarkets and processors hold too much of the bargaining power. A fundamental rule of business is to be able to sell your product for more than it costs to make. Farmers need to be allowed to run a truly sustainable business model, otherwise we risk losing them from the industry and with them, cows in fields and a countryside that people recognise.”

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Notes to Editors:
[1] Sainsburys, Tesco’s, Waitrose and M&S have milking pricing mechanisms that reflect how much it costs to produce milk.
[2] Some retailers buy their milk direct from farmers and others from processors. It is therefore essential that milk processors also provide dairy farmers with fair contracts.
[3] Legislation is currently progressing through Parliament to create a new Groceries Code Adjudicator with the aim of increasing protection for farmers and suppliers from unfair contracts with supermarkets. It will ensure that large retailers treat them fairly by lawfully adhering to the Groceries Code. The new body is being established to enforce the Groceries Code after the Competition Commission identified competition issues in their 2008 market study. In particular it concluded that the market dominance of big supermarkets led to some suppliers being treated unfairly in the UK and overseas. If a retailer is found to have breached the Groceries Code then the Adjudicator would have wide ranging powers to effect remedies such as: issuing recommendations to solve the dispute; naming and shaming the offenders by publishing information; and imposing fines (if the Secretary of State considers that the other solutions aren’t working and grants the Adjudicator this power).

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The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) responds to the publication of the Government’s Green Food Project report.

Responding to the publication of the Government's Green Food Project [1], which has identified a number of challenges that will need to be overcome if food production is to increase, Ian Woodhurst, CPRE's Senior Farming Campaigner said:

“If we are to meet the predicted increase in the demand for food with diminishing areas of land available for production and increasing strain on natural resources, we need to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past that created higher yields by sacrificing the environment.

“As CPRE did when we developed our Vision for the Future of Farming [2], the Green Food Project has also looked at many of the key issues relating to boosting food production. CPRE would like to see these considered as part of a much wider public debate on how we want our food to be produced in the future and what impact this might have on the countryside."

"The report is correct to state that, when it comes to balancing demands for food with environmental needs, our countryside needs to have ‘the right management in the right place’. To do this we will need two things: a more strategic approach to land use and food production so we can protect farm land from development; and well funded green farming schemes that can support farmers’ environmental management to prevent market forces doing ‘the wrong thing in the wrong place’ as has happened in the past."

End

Notes to Editors
[1] The Green Food Project convened by Defra has been examining how we might meet the challenge of reconciling the goals of improving the environment and increasing food production in England, by bringing together government, industry and environmental partners. This was a commitment made in the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper. The report sets out the early conclusions from this project.
[2] The CPRE Vision for the future of farming: http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/farming-and-food/farming/item/2668-cpres-vision-for-the-future-of-farming

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Commenting on an EFRA Select Committee [1] report into proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), so it delivers more for the environment, Ian Woodhurst, CPRE’s Senior Farming Campaigner says:

“As the Committee has discovered, there is complete confusion about how these new ‘greening’ proposals will work, and whether they will provide any real environmental improvements. Europe’s taxpayers could easily end up short changed by a greenwash that delivers limited benefits for the countryside and its wildlife.”

CPRE has called for a much more radical reform with the CAP refocused on providing much greater levels of support for environmental schemes that reward farmers for maintaining, restoring and enhancing the wildlife habitats and landscape features that makes our countryside so special. Progress on reforming the CAP is behind schedule and can’t be agreed until all member states sign off the next budget for the European Union.

Ian Woodhurst continued, “The Government still has a lot of work to do to improve these greening proposals so that the CAP delivers more for the environment. The Government will also need to negotiate a much better deal for the UK from the next European Union budget to secure the funding we need to improve the environmental quality of our farmland.

“If they fail we risk being left with a CAP that delivers less for the environment and less for UK taxpayers.”

End

Notes to Editors

[1] The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee conducted an inquiry into proposals to ‘green’ the Common Agricultural Policy.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. Our members are united in their love for England’s landscapes and rural communities, and stand up for the countryside, so it can continue to sustain, enchant and inspire future generations. Founded in 1926, President: Bill Bryson, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. www.cpre.org.uk


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The latest Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) survey [1] on the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) [2] released today shows it continues to fall short of expectations. Crucially, it is failing to achieve one of its core purposes – retaining and increasing the area of uncropped land to maintain the environmental benefits of the now abolished set-aside scheme [3].  And the task of providing these benefits is not being met by all farmers. Following a review, the Government is due to decide on the future of the CFE later this year.

Ian Woodhurst, CPRE’s farming campaigner said, “Given these disappointing findings it’s important that the Government conducts a thorough review. We believe it’s important that farmers are clear about what’s expected of them and that they all need to contribute towards making farming practices more environmentally sustainable.”

Following the publication of the survey, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is calling for the review of the CFE to address three key areas of concern:

•    How the CFE can ensure all farmers help improve the environmental quality of England’s farmed environment. While many farmers are doing good things through the CFE, they continue to be let down by others who appear unwilling or reluctant to play their part.

•    A rigorous appraisal of whether the voluntary approach of the CFE has provided better value for money than a mandatory requirement for all farmers, taking into account all the costs expended by the organisations involved.

•    How the CFE will work alongside proposed reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that aim to make the CAP deliver more for the environment.

The voluntary approach of the CFE has helped government agencies, farming and wildlife organisations work more closely with farmers to introduce vital green farming measures in some areas. But CPRE remains sceptical about whether a voluntary approach will ultimately be as effective as a simple requirement for all farmers to put a small percentage of their land into environmental measures. Defra has put around £1.5m of public money into the CFE and it has to rely on Government agencies and farming and wildlife organisations to persuade farmers to pitch in, and publicly funded green farming schemes to deliver its aims. The partner organisations involved [4] have contributed enormous amounts of time, money and effort to try to make the CFE work. Yet surveys suggest a hard core of farmers are still unwilling to participate.

Ian Woodhurst concluded, “It’s likely that forthcoming reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy will introduce further environmental requirements for farmers so the CAP delivers more public benefits. The reforms provide an opportunity to introduce measures that recognise the work of those farmers who are doing their bit for the environment, and to prevent others from doing very little or nothing at all.”


End

Notes to Editors
[1] The survey of land managed under the Campaign for the Farmed Environment 2011/12 crop year – England was published on 10th May. It is available from: http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/foodfarm/enviro/landenvmanage/
Key results are: Table 2.2 - If you are in ELS did you join or renew in response to the campaign: Joined ELS in response to the Campaign (% of holdings): 10%; Renewed ELS agreement in response to the Campaign: 34%; Did not join/renew; 57%. Table 5.1 - Have you retained any uncropped land or left cultivatable land out of production? Yes (percentage of holdings): 37%; No: 63%. Table 5.2 - Total area of cultivatable land out of production not in agri-environment schemes: November 2009 (area in hectares) 157,355ha; Feb 2010 155,875ha; Feb 2011 130,374; Feb 2012 82,409. Table 6.1 - Have you put land into some form of unpaid environmental management by choosing at least one of the Campaign voluntary measures? Yes (percentage of holdings) 24%; No - 76%.

[2] In 2009 the Government consulted on two alternatives for retaining the environmental benefits of set-aside. One was a mandatory approach that would require all farmers to put a small percentage of their land into environmental management. The other was a voluntary approach devised by the farming industry which the Government decided to implement. The Campaign for the Farmed Environment was therefore established. The CFE’s aim is to encourage farmers to sign up to options in the Entry Level Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ELS), and implement additional voluntary actions that aim to recapture the environmental benefits associated with former set-aside land. It provides advice, support, and training to farmers and their advisers who choose to participate in the Campaign in order to facilitate the implementation of measures on their farms.

[3] Set-aside was introduced in 1988 to prevent over-production of food by taking agricultural land out of production. Set-aside land could then be managed to produce environmental benefits, for example by providing areas of feeding habitat for wildlife and by preventing water courses becoming contaminated by agricultural sprays. Areas of set-aside also added to the diversity of the landscape by creating patches of non-cultivated land. In recent years around 500,000 hectares of land has been left fallow or put into set-aside, making it England’s third largest land use. CPRE agreed that set-aside should be phased out, now that the CAP no longer requires farmers to produce particular crops to receive farming payments, but called for a mandatory measure to be introduced to prevent the loss of the environmental benefits accrued while set-aside existed.

[4] CFE partner organisations include: National Farmers Union, Country Land and Business Association, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, and Linking Environment and Farming, working in partnership with Defra, Natural England, the Environment Agency and the RSPB. For further details see http://www.cfeonline.org.uk/

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Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:09

Feeding the Future in Norwich

For the first time the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, are bringing people across Norfolk together to talk about how to support their local food networks.

Food is essential for our existence and a strong local food network creates employment, fosters a sense of community and can help to keep our high streets and small businesses thriving, along with the environmental benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Feeding the Future conference will bring together  planners, countryside managers, parish and town councils, councillors and local food initiatives to see how we can create a strong local food economy.

Thea Platt, Local Food Campaigner for CPRE, says: “Local food is about much more then reducing food miles. It can be an important part of the local economy supporting 1,000s of local jobs in farming, food production and at food outlets. Local food businesses also add to community life, help local good causes and support diversity in farming and the local countryside.

“We know from our work mapping local food webs that the strength and value of these networks can depend greatly on the support they have from local councils, chambers of commerce, suppliers, outlets and of course, local people. We hope that by getting as many of these people together as possible we can develop a way to strengthen and improve the local food webs of Norfolk and Norwich.”

The event is being sponsored by the Big Lottery Fund as part of the Making Local Food Work programme and will be chaired by Kath Delmeny, Director of Policy at Sustain.

Other speakers will include: Tim O’Riordan, President of CPRE Norfolk; Clare Devereux, Food Matters; Mike Mack, Easton College; Paul Campbell, We Love Local Food; Chris Hull, Farmshare, Thea Platt and Karen Gardham CPRE.

Feeding the Future conference is being held in Dragon Hall, 115-123 Kind Street, Norwich NR1 1QE on Wednesday 9 May from 10.30 to 15.30.

Tickets and further information can be found by contacting Suzanne Natelson, 020 7837 1228, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.localactiononfood.org.

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The Government has today published its response to over 200 recommendations made by the Farming Regulation Task Force [1].

Rural campaigners have welcomed proposals that should mean progress in a number of areas but remain concerned about how changes to planning policy could affect the countryside.

Commenting on the Government’s response, Ian Woodhurst, CPRE’s Senior Farming Campaigner says:

“CPRE is pleased that both the Government and the Task Force clearly recognise the important role well-implemented environmental regulation plays in protecting the countryside's wildlife and much-loved landscapes.

“We are particularly pleased that the Hedgerows Regulations have avoided being weakened and we warmly welcome the Government’s plan to hold a national fly-tipping summit. A number of local CPRE groups are working with farmers to find ways of tackling the growing problem of fly-tipping.

“CPRE has long campaigned for an end to the uncertainty over how the planning system deals with polytunnels so it can tackle concerns over their cumulative impact on local landscapes. We are pleased this campaign is finally bearing fruit and welcome the Government’s undertaking to examine the issue. We look forward to helping to develop a workable solution that supports fruit and veg producers without damaging the character of our countryside.”

“We are very concerned by moves to relax planning controls that could allow farm buildings to be converted to offices, shops, tourist enterprises and leisure facilities with little prior notification or local consultation. The imminent new national planning policies must ensure that development has local consent and is environmentally sustainable.”

End

Notes to Editors
[1] DEFRA, Government Response to the Farming Regulation Task Force, 21/02/2012

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National charity CPRE publishes a new report into the economic and social value of local food to Ledbury just days before a crunch council meeting to decide on a major out-of-town supermarket application.

In the latest of its ‘From field to fork’ reports [1], the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has today published a detailed report into the network of outlets and suppliers that make up Ledbury’s local food economy [2].

Aimed at discovering the social and economic contribution made by local food to Ledbury, the report concludes that local food supports over 680 jobs in and around the town, making a considerable contribution to the local economy and community. The report warns that allowing the construction of a large, out-of-town supermarket would threaten Ledbury’s established local food network.

Download: ‘From field to fork: Ledbury – mapping the local food web’

Thea Platt
, Local Food Campaigner for CPRE, says: “It can be difficult to put a number on the value of local food to a community. Many of the businesses involved can be small and the relationships between them complex. With our ‘From field to fork’ reports we have attempted to quantify these networks and show how important they can be to a thriving community.

“As we study these networks we are often finding that, as a whole, they make a huge social, economic and environmental contribution to a town. They are also frequently at the heart of local initiatives and good causes, and bring distinctiveness to their local areas. 

“But we also know these networks are sensitive to disruption and need support to flourish. We have found stronger networks in places with fewer out-of-town retail outlets. These networks do best in places like Ledbury with thriving town centres and a good mix of retail outlets.

“I hope that our Ledbury report can be used by the local council, chamber of commerce and other community leaders to come together to see how they can best support Ledbury’s local food web.”

The report will prove timely for the members of Herefordshire Council’s planning committee who are meeting on Wednesday 22 February to discuss an application by Sainsbury’s to build a 30,000 sq ft retail store and petrol station on Leadon Way on the outskirts of the town.

Thea Platt commented: “Ledbury is one of 19 locations we have been studying as part of our Mapping Local Food Webs project across England. Although the timing of the report is unconnected to this local planning issue, I hope that it proves useful to the committee.”

Key findings from the report:

  • Choice, availability and access to local food are good with 25 food outlets selling local food and for a majority of these outlets it represents a quarter or more of turnover;
  • Local shops are servicing public demand for fresh, high quality food, supported by short supply chains;
  • Local food supports, we estimate, 200 jobs at outlets and over 480 at local suppliers;
  • Local food sales in Ledbury are an estimated £1.5 million to £2.7 million a year and help to support £29.5 million of turnover at supply chain businesses;
  • A minimum of 95 local producers within 30 miles supply food directly to outlets we interviewed in Ledbury, reducing food miles and related pollution;
  • Ledbury maintains its market town heritage and has a thriving high street with a good range of independent shops;
  • Residents, visitors and tourists recognise the good availability of local food in the town;
  • Local food supports diversity in farming, which shapes and maintains the character of the local countryside;
  • Many shops and suppliers contribute to community life by donating to local good causes and offer a friendly, personal service.

End

Notes to Editors
[1] Mapping Local Food Webs is a national project led by CPRE, supported by Sustain, and funded from 2007 to 2012 by the Big Lottery through the Making Local Food Work programme. The project engages people in researching their own local food web in up to three towns and cities in each of the eight English regions. Aided by around 300 volunteers, CPRE has been working with local volunteers to map the food webs around 19 towns and cities across England.  Six pilot study reports were launched in April 2011. We will be reporting on a further 13 locations in several stages over 2012. Today marks the launch of the first of these. http://bit.ly/w4HKG9
[2] CPRE, From field to fork: Ledbury, 19 February 2012, http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/farming-and-food/local-foods/item/download/1759

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CAP reforms risk being little more then an exercise in ‘green-washing’ unless UK takes a strong position with EU partners

An influential group of over 25 wildlife and environmental organisations [1] have joined together to persuade the UK Government to take a firm negotiating position with the EU over strengthening environmental provisions in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Campaigners fear that unless the UK takes a strong line on making CAP payments, currently worth over £3 billion per year, do more towards maintaining and improving the natural environment and animal welfare, the current round of reforms will be little more then a ‘green-wash’ for the established status quo.

Abi Bunker, RSPB senior agriculture policy officer and Chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Agriculture Working Group, said: “The Commission's proposals are now out and we're deeply concerned that agri-environment schemes, which reward farmers to do fantastic things for the environment and wildlife on their land, will receive less money in the future.

“This flies in the face of claims that the next CAP will be greener. It is now time for the UK Government, and UK Members of the European Parliament to step up to the mark and make sure such schemes are properly resourced so our farmers get all the support they need to do their bit for nature."

The Joint Links group are launching a new report, ‘Crunch Time for CAP: Choosing the right tools for a richer countryside’, at an event in the House of Commons at 4pm on 8 November 2011. The Rt. Hon Jim Paice MP, Minister for Agriculture and Food will be speaking at the launch to give the Government’s response. The report outlines 10 key outcomes that the Joint Link’s think the UK Government should make the basis of its negotiating position with EU partners.

Ian Woodhurst
, Senior Farming Campaigner for CPRE and Vice Chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Agriculture Working Group, says: “The CAP has huge potential to bring about a revolution in the protection and enrichment of Europe’s landscapes. But to make this happen we will need our government to show the political will and a strong commitment to arguing the case in Brussels. Anything less will mean more of the same, poorly directed funding delivering few real benefits for the environment.”  

Notes to Editors
[1]The Joint Links group consists of Wildlife and Countryside Link, Scottish Environment LINK, Northern Ireland Environment Link and Wales Environment Link.

Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) brings together over 30 voluntary organisations concerned with the conservation and protection of wildlife and the countryside. Our members practise and advocate environmentally sensitive land management, and encourage respect for and enjoyment of natural landscapes and features, the historic and marine environment and biodiversity. Taken together our members have the support of over 8 million people in the UK and manage over 690,000 hectares of land.

Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland's voluntary environment organisations. Its 36 member bodies represent a wide range of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society.

Wales Environment Link is the umbrella body for environmental and countryside non-governmental organisations in Wales. We are a busy network, active in a range of policy areas and the official link between the Welsh Government and Wales' environmental NGO sector.
Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) is the forum and networking body for organisations interested in the environment of Northern Ireland. NIEL acts to coordinate a strong and coherent voice to policy makers to improve environmental policy and action.

Crunch Time for CAP is supported by the following Joint Links’ members:

Archaeology Scotland
Butterfly Conservation
Bat Conservation Trust
British Mountaineering Council
Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust
Bumblebee Conservation Trust
Campaign to Protect Rural England
Campaign for National Parks
Council for British Archaeology
Froglife
The Grasslands Trust
The Mammal Society
North East Mountain Trust
Plantlife
Ramblers Scotland
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Scottish Campaign for National Parks
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
The Wildlife Trusts
Wildlife Trust Wales
Woodland Trust
Wye & Usk Foundation
Youth Hostel Association LE

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Following the publication of Defra's Interim Response to the Farming Regulation Taskforce [1], which sets out progress to date on many of its recommendations, Ian Woodhurst, CPRE's Senior Farming Campaigner says:

"The Task Force did a thorough job of examining the myriad of regulations that affect farming. We are pleased to see the commitment to reduce the burden of regulation without weakening vital protection for the environment has been maintained. Other Government departments would do well to follow this approach when they examine their own regulatory frameworks."

“We are particularly pleased to see the scourge of fly-tipping being addressed with the Government’s new emphasis on enforcement. A number of our local groups have been working with farmers to identify solutions to fly-tipping on farmland and these measures will be welcomed.

"We need to move on from the mantra that all regulations are bad and recognise that they can often be the fairest and most effective way of delivering the outcomes that are needed."

End

Notes to Editors
[1] Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Farming Regulation Taskforce Interim Response, 03 November 2001

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. Our 57,000 members are united in their love for England’s landscapes and rural communities, and stand up for the countryside, so it can continue to sustain, enchant and inspire future generations. Founded in 1926, President: Bill Bryson, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. www.cpre.org.uk

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