Invest in countryside and the next generation of farmers says CPRE as government announces post-Brexit vision for agriculture

Avatar for Imogen Haig
By Imogen Haig
1st December 2020
Commenting on the government’s path to sustainable farming (the Agricultural Transition Plan), Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

‘Putting our countryside and nature recovery, especially improving soil health and tackling climate change, at the centre of our post-Brexit farming policy is a huge step forward. This could be a watershed moment for farmers, countryside communities and action to tackle the climate and nature emergencies. But so much depends on Ministers getting the delivery and detail of new policy right.

‘Improving soil health will be critical in this recovery – healthy soils are the fundamental building blocks of agriculture, but have been an afterthought for too long. By protecting and regenerating our soils, we can produce more healthy food, prevent erosion, cut river pollution and carbon losses, and invite nature back to every farm. That’s why the government must support farmers to better understand, assess and manage their soils and encourage nature friendly farming across all of their land.

‘The future of farming as a diverse and innovative sector is being threatened by declining opportunities for new and young farmers to start their own business on a council farm. Council owned farms are being sold off at an accelerating pace. So, it is welcome news to see the New Entrant Support Scheme. But it’s more important than ever that the government reinvests in council farms to allow new and young farmers to get a foot in the barn door. Investing in the next generation of farmers is critical if we are to claim a brighter future for farming after we leave the EU.’

Want to know more?

House of Commons Library research briefing on the Agricultural Bill
CPRE’s response to the Government’s consultation on a post-Brexit agricultural policy
CPRE ‘Reviving County Farms’ 2019 report, that shows the opportunities that county farms offer – in terms of local benefit, income generation and training in farming – and provides the evidence that the numbers of county farms are dropping
CPRE ‘Back to the land: rethinking our approach to soil’ report, setting out practical ways to restore soil and new approaches to policy
CPRE ‘Uncertain harvest: does the loss of farms matter?’ Farming Foresight paper, which looks at the data on farm numbers and sizes and raises questions about the loss of farms and their diversity.

 

 

Grazing sheep in the Kennet valley, Thatcham, Berkshire Graham Horn CC BY-SA 2.0