CLA President Ross Murray has responded to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)’s report published today on the future of farming outside the EU:
“The Campaign to Protect Rural England is the latest organisation to provide an important insight into the challenge faced by all those that care about the future of a living and working countryside. We agree that the UK’s exit from the EU and specifically our likely exit from the Common Agricultural Policy creates an opportunity for building a new policy that supports our farming and rural economy in a different way.
“CPRE is right to identify the fundamental importance of having a resilient and productive agricultural sector as the starting point for delivering a working countryside and supporting our environment. However there is a confusion within their message about where support needs to be targeted, the size of a farm does not predetermine whether it is achieving good or bad outcomes for consumers or the environment. What matters is the production of high quality affordable food for the UK population and a strong export market at the same time as improving our natural environment.
“When it comes to achieving vital environmental objectives, size often matters – whether it means improving water quality, which often has to happen at the level of a whole river catchment, or increasing farmland bird populations across miles of open countryside, the investments required need to take place over large tracts of land and so the levels of investment necessary are the same irrespective of who they are paid to. What matters is the outcome.
“We do not support CPRE’s objective of using future farm policy to pursue an agenda about breaking up landownership, because it would risk severely undermining investment in productive agriculture and the environment just when it is most needed. Securing greater participation in farming is important and the CLA has led the way on delivering practical ways of doing this. Our Share Farming initiative is increasing access to farming for people, addressing not simply access to land to farm but also providing mentoring and skills development. There are the right ways to tackle this issue, what would be wrong would be to seek to achieve these types of objectives through a policy that has to focus on the core objectives of maintaining a resilient farming sector, producing high quality affordable food and doing so in a way that improves our natural environment.”
Click here or on the icon below to read the CLA's briefing on how a new UK food, farming and environmental policy should be established