The government have launched a public consultation on their plans for agriculture and land management following Brexit. Entitled ‘Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a green Brexit’ the paper will inform their forthcoming Agriculture Bill.
“There is broad agreement that whilst it carries risks, leaving the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy gives the UK an opportunity to improve an outdated system. Many areas of our native wildlife are in decline due to changes in how land is managed. For instance the traditional wildflower meadows of years gone by are now a rare sight and hedgerows that were once a reliable source of food and shelter for many species are now lacking,” said Charlotte Harris, Chief Executive Officer at Cheshire Wildlife Trust. “Farming has a huge role to play in securing high quality water, preserving healthy soils, reducing the contribution we make to climate change, and, critically, restoring the abundance of our wildlife.”
Cheshire Wildlife Trust works with farmers across the region, giving advice on managing land for wildlife including reducing water pollution and increasing flood prevention. The Trust also manages their own 86 hectare working farm in the heart of rural Cheshire implementing a wildlife-friendly farm management system.
“We have practical knowledge of combining farming practices and support for wildlife – so we know it is possible to make a success of both. We welcome the government’s vision for the future of farming and the proposals to pay farmers and land managers for managing their land in a way that is of value to the public - by providing for wildlife, improving water and soil quality, and reducing the risk of floods downstream,” said Ben Gregory, Area Manager, at Cheshire Wildlife Trust. “But it is still vital that people take the opportunity to have their say during this consultation to give wildlife a voice.”
The top three priorities that The Wildlife Trusts would like to see in this paper are: rewarding farmers and land managers for the environmental benefits they provide for society, a supported transition from the current Common Agricultural Policy, and a change in the culture of regulation, so that it becomes easy for farmers to help nature and reduce risk to wildlife.
People can respond to the consultation through an online survey at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/farming/future-of-farming/ by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter sent to Agriculture Consultation Team, 1b - Future Farming Directorate, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR. The deadline for comments is 8th May 2018.