Posted: Friday 13th December 2013 by TheWildlifeTrustsBlogger
Brown hares need farms with wild areas of habitat to thrive (credit Elliott Neep)
This is my latest blog about the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (don’t be put off – please read on!). The CAP has taken its long and winding route through European Parliament and now we really are at the sharp end. In the next couple of days our Government will decide how the Policy is implemented here and how much money goes towards helping nature on farms for the next seven years. We say public funding for agriculture must go to farmers who give wildlife a chance.
What you can do
We're continuing to keep up the pressure on Government over the next few days. You can help by letting the key people involved know you support Farming With Nature.
@David_Cameron, @George_Osborne, @nick_clegg, @dannyalexander
Inspire the millions who love nature (INSERT TWITTER NAME). CAP money must go to farmers who give wildlife a chance!
Don’t compromise on what’s left of our wildlife (INSERT TWITTER NAME). Give the most support to farmers who work with not against nature
Last chance for what’s left of our wildlife (INSERT TWITTER NAME) give the max you can to farmers who support nature
The RSPB has set up an e-action so you can email David Cameron to let him know what you think
The Government has recently stated its clear preference for transferring 15% of the £13.8bn agriculture budget that provides direct payments to farmers in England into the small rural development fund (£1.2bn) that supports farm environment schemes.
This is a vital move at a time of reduced budgets and urgent environmental need. It is a move that will support wildlife friendly farmers, embed actions for the environment in agriculture and provide a lifeline for habitats like hedgerows, moorland, wetland, rivers and meadows and the wildlifethey support.
Just last week George Eustice, Farming Minister, reiterated the need for the 15% transfer in a public meeting. He set out a clear case - citing the need to make sure the existing good work being undertaken by farmers can be sustained and the need to do more to restore wildlife and deliver the outcomes in the Government’s own Biodiversity Strategy for England. We know wildlife is in decline on farmland and a 15% transfer will give us the best possible opportunity to tackle this decline.
But rumours have reached us that the Government may be wavering in the face of pressure from the National Farmers Union, who do not support this transfer. It seems that the final decision on the amount to be transferred and allocated to farm environment schemes will be made this weekend by Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. We believe that there is a real risk that they could ignore the advice of Defra Ministers and evidence that clearly shows why a 15% transfer is needed to deliver the best outcomes for the environment.
We have consistently called for a 15% transfer to the rural development fund, and an allocation of 88% of the fund to farm environment schemes (the maximum available in both cases), because this allocation of funds will deliver for farming, the environment and the public, providing clear public benefits for taxpayers’ money.
We are urging David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander not to compromise the countryside. They must hold firm and stand by the Government’s commitment to a 15% transfer, providing a fair deal for farmers who work with nature.
Please help us get the message across one final time – farming with nature needs a 15% CAP budget transfer, anything less will fail our wildlife.
Helen Perkins is Living Landscape Development Manager at The Wildlife Trusts. She's been working at the place where nature conservation and farming meet for much of her career.