New farming policy stripped of ambition to aid nature recovery
The Government has broken its promise to reform farming post-Brexit. In its National Food Strategy published today, the Government’s commitment to provide a third of its farming budget for Landscape Recovery has been abandoned.
In the run up to the publication of the new strategy, Defra said: “We will not have fixed allocations (or ‘pillars’, as they were known whilst we were in the EU) of money ring fenced to different schemes.” In practice, this means that money will go towards meeting only the most basic of environmental standards instead of ring-fencing funds to reward landowners who want to take a more ambitious and large-scale approach to producing environmental and climate goods on their land.
The National Food Strategy also fails to address the threats to food security posed by biodiversity loss and climate change, despite these being identified as “the biggest medium to long term risk to the UK’s domestic production” in the UK Food Security Report 2021. Our global food systems are reliant on thriving natural systems to provide healthy soils, safe and plentiful water, beneficial pollinators, and a stable climate, and investing in nature-based solutions will be key to securing food security.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says: “The Government has broken the promise that it has made time and time again to restore nature across large areas as part of the post-Brexit agricultural transition – it’s a disgrace. Out-of-date farming policies have caused degraded soils, polluted rivers, and extreme loss of wildlife including the disappearance of insects and pollinators. Surely taxpayers’ money should be used to reward farmers to grow food in a way that is good for nature, rather than harming it – otherwise the food strategy will ultimately fail. There is no such thing as food security if nature is in decline. The Landscape Recovery scheme that has now been side-lined is intended to be big, bold way of addressing the nature and climate crises – it is crucial to us all. Projects include upland peat restoration, farmers getting together to clean-up whole catchments to heal rivers, and reintroducing lost species to aid a natural balance across ecosystems. Now the Government is slipping back into the old thinking that has resulted in a tired old agricultural system dependent on imports of fossil fuel-based fertilisers from countries like Russia, and nature in decline. Have we learned nothing?”
Posted On: 13/06/2022