Future of Lincolnshire Farming
What’s the future for our Lincolnshire Countryside?
The government has finally published the long awaited proposals to reform farm support in the post Brexit era. What do the new policies mean for Lincolnshire’s countryside?
Lincolnshire Independents have taken a good look at the 60 page proposals. Cllrs Peter Lundgren and Peter Overton take independent perspectives.
Spokesman Cllr Peter Lundgren from White Home Farm, Branston Fen says;
“For too long the farm support system has promoted unsustainable farming and paid huge sums of public money to the largest landowners – and much of this money paid without requiring farmers to adopt the high environmental and animal welfare standards the public want to see.”
“So the proposal to link payments to sustainable farming, local nature recovery and landscape recovery is very laudable.”
“The proposals go on the discuss the need for UK farmers to develop efficient farming and adopt new technologies. However efficient farming is linked to the increasing use of agrochemicals, fertilisers and antibiotics; and new technologies include genetically modified crops and animals.”
“And embedded in the document is the old common agriculture policy dogma that food production and environmental enhancement cannot co-exist; that the landscape must be divided between environmentally enhanced areas and areas designated for food production where nothing but the crop can exist.”
“A once in a lifetime opportunity to develop a truly sustainable farming system across the whole farmed landscape has been missed. A farming landscape where profitable food production goes hand-in-hand with delivering environmental benefits; where farming produces economically viable and healthy food whilst providing habitat for the flora and fauna that share our farms, and where farming as a primary employer in the countryside supporting quality jobs and underpinning the rural economy.”
“It’s a start but there’s a long way to go before we see reforms that really meet the needs of farmers, the environment, and the taxpayer.”
Cllr Peter Overton from Hilltop Farm Holidays, Welbourn adds,
“The recent Agricultural Act for England with its political headline “Public Money for Public Good” points the direction in which farming is already heading in the countryside.”
“Under the current Countryside Stewardship scheme much of the land that best lends itself to conservation projects, such as tree planting and wide verges with good quality hedgerows, is taking shape right now.”
“Financial considerations are already forcing farmers to reduce their costs. For example by cutting back on chemical use and ploughing which are very energy intensive.”
“What is not receiving enough attention though, is the part that all of us as consumers should play in the new agricultural revolution.”
“We could all boost agricultural incomes and the protection of our environment by buying seasonally and locally, keeping our smaller farmers in business and preventing the otherwise inevitable absorption of land into ever larger units.”
“There would be no need for any subsidies if we did not continue to buy so much from over-intensive and destructive systems, both in the UK and overseas. These often increase deforestation and make a large carbon footprint, much of it in transport, for which we are all picking up the bill.”
Cllr Robert Oates adds, “I would stress that the government should not use the change over to the new system to reduce the overall budget for farm support, currently around £3.4bn pa going into rural economies across the UK.”
“The decades of destruction of the natural environment on farmland through the CAP will need the same level of support payment to farmers to restore biodiversity, store flood waters, maintain animal welfare and rebuild soils. “
Cllr Marianne Overton MBE is working nationally as Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association, concerned with the impact on our local economies.
“My biggest concern is that the plan to remove the money from the current subsidies is clear, but very little detail or certainty about how it is going to be reallocated to support our farming countryside economies. Is this a trojan horse undermining our rural communities? I hope not.”
“In welcoming change for the better, we certainly still need good management of the land to be properly funded if we are to have healthy, rural communities.”
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