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Farming

Back to the land: rethinking our approach to soil

This report from CPRE calls for a radical rethink of farming practices and soil management in order to help regenerate the soils that underpin our supply of food and environment. It sets out practical ways to restore soil and new approaches to policy.

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CPRE response to the Government's consultation on a post-Brexit agricultural policy

CPRE has 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, long term public investment in the environment through farming is vital if we are to deliver the 25 year environment plan. Taking these policies as a given, the remaining key issues for CPRE are to:

 - Create a dynamic, innovative farming sector by reversing the dramatic loss of farms, mainly smaller farms, over recent decades. Tailored support should be offered to ensure smaller farms make the most of the new policy, to develop sustainable businesses.

 - Reverse the decline of our beautiful landscapes that people care about so much. Landscapes everywhere must be enhanced through agricultural policy, particularly those around urban areas where most people live. By targeting support to determine where specific actions are taken in the landscape, multiple benefits can be delivered. The tools to do this are already available.

CPRE also calls 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 in the document below.

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CPRE's Vision for the future of farming

In our 2026 Vision for the Countryside CPRE looked to a brighter, better future. The role of farming in helping to deliver that future is critical. This vision sets out our aspirations for a farming system that, by 2026, our centenary year, will be helping to create a more vibrant countryside, environmentally, socially and economically.

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CPRE's Vision for the future of farming: Arable farming

Arable farming has changed enormously over the past 60 years and the size of arable farms has greatly increased, resulting in significant changes to the character of many of our landscapes. This is CPRE's analysis of the challenges facing arable farming, and our suggestions for a sustainable future for the sector.

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CPRE's Vision for the future of farming: Beef and sheep farming

Beef cattle and sheep farming helps maintain many of our most important wildlife habitats, as well as the character of our beautiful countryside. This is CPRE's analysis of the challenges facing beef and sheep farming, including our ideas to help secure its future as a profitable sector which continues to enhance landscapes.

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CPRE's Vision for the future of farming: Dairy farming

The number of dairy farms in the UK has declined dramatically over the last two decades, with a move towards larger farms and herds. Here, CPRE explore the options for reversing this trend and create a thriving dairy sector with benefits for local food webs and landscapes.

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CPRE's Vision for the future of farming: Horticulture

CPRE's Vision for the future of farming looks at the issues surrounding the horticulture sector, including the impact of polytunnels on the landscape and the challenge of getting seasonal, homegrown produce back on shelves and menus. We set out our ideas for reviving the sector to benefit independent producers and strengthen local food webs.

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CPRE's Vision for the future of farming: Pig and poultry farming

Intensive production of pork and chicken meat and eggs has highlighted a range of welfare and environmental concerns. Here, CPRE examines these concerns and sets out how the pig and poultry sector could benefit from higher animal welfare standards, and what needs to be done to provide more support for our farmers

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New model farming

Resilience through diversity

The first paper in CPRE's new Food and Farming Foresight series suggests that, following the EU referendum decision, there is an opportunity for major policy change to develop a new vision and policies that will establish a sound future for farming. The paper identifies a range of recommendations to increase the diversity, sustainability and resilience of the farming sector on which so much of our countryside depends..

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Uncertain harvest: does the loss of farms matter?

The latest paper in CPRE's Farming Foresight paper looks at the data on farm numbers and sizes and raises questions about the loss of farms and their diversity.

UK data show that we have lost over a fifth of English farms in the past ten years alone. In particular, the number offarms below 200 hectares is falling. Numbers of intermediate and smaller farms are declining, though smaller farms are the worst affected. If current trends continue, few if any farms under 20ha could be left within a generation while most of those up to 50ha could be gone in two generations. Worse still, the official data may underestimate the extent of change occurring in who manages the land.

This report argues that farm size diversity is a crucial consideration as we move towards Brexit. It could help deliver the many public benefits that we need farming to provide and that public funding – and the market where possible – should foster and reward.

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