In this talk to the NFU conference Andrea Leadsom has outlined the Government’s principles with reference to the CFP. It doesn’t provide detail but importantly ‘environment’ is highlighted as the third principle (see blow). For those looking for clues re CFP a statement to this effect would be a good start and the inclusion of ‘environment’ essential if all those years of debate over reform of the CFP are not to be wasted.

Defra Third principle – Sustainable

And this leads me to our third principle; the environment.

British farmers don’t only produce world-class food, but as part of that process, they care for and shape some of our most iconic landscapes.

Yet, whilst 70% of our land is farmed, just a small percentage of funding is directed towards the provision of these environmental services.

So, alongside a fair return from the market, farmers must feel incentivised and rewarded for caring for the environment.

The current CAP has improved over recent years, but in trying to do more for the environment, farmers have found themselves confronted with unnecessary bureaucracy.

So as we leave the EU, we have an opportunity to take a fresh look at these schemes and think about what mechanisms are needed to promote the twin goals of productive farming and environmental improvement.

I want to consider, for example, how we will strike the right balance between national frameworks for support measures whilst tailoring them to local landscapes and catchments.

And how can we incentivise as many farmers as possible to undertake environmental improvements on their land?

The Farmer Cluster concept, pioneered by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and Natural England is a great example of how farmers can come together, at a landscape scale, to farm productively whilst delivering greater outcomes for soil, water and wildlife – such as boosting the number of grey partridge in Lincolnshire or harvest mice in Hampshire.

We all know that good farmers produce excellent food at the same time as improving the environment – and by increasing the use of technology alongside traditional farm husbandry, more farmers will be able to achieve both of these things.

Click here to read the speech in full.

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