The Chancellor’s pledge that the Government will guarantee funding for agri-environment schemes signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after the UK has left the EU has been welcomed by the CLA.
The CLA has also welcomed inclusion in the Chancellor’s announcement of a commitment to structural growth funds, which play an important role in diversifying rural economies. The organisation has asked the Treasury and Defra to make both these commitments in a series of meetings and letters in past weeks.
CLA President Ross Murray said: “We have been calling for Government to make these commitments to the countryside and the environment. This is a crucial step in the transition to a strong post-Brexit future both for the environment and for rural businesses. EU funded schemes are vitally important to driving investment in our rural economy and delivering environmental benefits such as creating habitats for wildlife and reducing flood risk.
“The Chancellor’s announcement has made clear that applications made to carry out environmental improvement work under the EU Countryside Stewardship scheme, for example, will be considered and where approved funded until the contract completes. Agreements under the Countryside Stewardship scheme usually run for five years and landowners and farmers can now apply to deliver this type of environmental work with the confidence that the agreement will be honoured until its completion.
“While this is an important and welcome announcement, there are still crucial decisions to be made for the longer-term. We are urging Government to commit to working with farmers and land managers to establish a fully funded, world-leading domestic Food, Farming and Environment Policy. This should be designed to ensure a resilient farming sector alongside work to protect and enhance the environment, and it must be in place ready to succeed and better the EU Common Agricultural Policy from 2021.”
CLA briefing paper ‘New Opportunities: The case for a world-leading Food, Farming and Environmental policy' explains why a UK policy is necessary and highlights the scale and scope of what is required. It can be downloaded here.
The CLA is running the CLA New Opportunities campaign to ensure that farming, the rural economy and the environment are treated as priorities by Government as the UK prepares for Brexit.