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CPRE welcomes agriculture proposals

27 February 2018

CPRE has welcomed the Government’s proposed direction on future agricultural policy published today (27 February) and urged it to resist calls to simply maintain the status quo.

The consultation sets out a new direction for a countryside where food production goes hand-in-hand with delivering benefits for the wider public. The proposals take on board many of the recommendations CPRE made in New Model Farming, published just after the EU referendum.  

‘This is the first time in a generation we have had the chance to set our own agricultural policy and is a fantastic opportunity for this Government to revitalise our countryside and enhance our cherished farmed landscape,’ said CPRE head of rural affairs Belinda Gordon.

She added: ‘While it is true that the consultation contains little that Michael Gove hasn’t trailed in previous speeches, it is important that this positive vision isn’t diluted. CPRE will be urging the Government to maintain current levels of funding but re-direct them to ensure we have a dynamic, healthy countryside with even more beautiful landscapes for all to enjoy. This will require the majority of payments to be used to support farmers to deliver benefits for the public that aren’t rewarded by the market. These include enhancing nature, preventing flooding and increasing public access. Key to ensuring a positive impact will be to support farmers to make these changes in ways which fit in with their local landscape – a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach won’t work.’

However, CPRE is disappointed that the document does not consult on specific measures that could halt the dramatic loss of smaller farms, as described in last year’s Uncertain Harvest: does the loss of farms matter?

‘Smaller farms should be supported in the same way that small businesses are in other sectors – and recognised as vital to getting new blood into the sector and driving the innovation that farming needs. It is great that payments based on land area will be cut during the transition period. These cuts need to apply most to those receiving the largest payments, helping to correct the current bias towards larger farms. The funds released should be used to pilot new ways of delivering public benefits and supporting smaller farms to develop sustainable businesses,' added Belinda Gordon.

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