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Sustainable Farming and Our Land: Response to post-Brexit proposals

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November 2019

Farming and countryside at a crossroads – care needed when turning!

CPRW welcomes the spirit of these proposals for a new sustainable and well-targeted farm policy after Brexit, which should apply in principle even if we ‘Remain’.

It is refreshing to see the multi-purpose link between ‘public goods’ and farming clearly stated, which CPRW sees as a strengthened reason for long-term and well-focussed financial support financed by the proposed Sustainable Farming Payment (SFP). This is nowhere more true than in our uplands – both inside and outside designated areas – which form the heart of rural Wales and are at present explicitly supported by the EU ‘Less Favoured Areas’ system.

In its specific response: (click to open document)  CPRW lamented the paucity of references to the landscape and stressed that its conservation through farming should be accepted as a public good, inherent in policy and factored-in as justification for financial support.

Although the proposed system does attempt to identify specific environmental goods and to target resources accordingly by Farm Sustainability Plans (FSPs), and through the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) initiative, it risks imposing an impracticable degree of bureaucracy alien to farming, and requires a previously untried role for the advisory services.

The role of the market would then reduce, but the basic task of farmers and farming must still be to produce wholesome, environmentally-friendly food in a way that conserves resources, enhances environmental capital and sustains communities through ‘rural proofing’.

It must also protect Wales’ Best and Most Versatile (BMV) farmland to produce quality food, but without incurring current levels of pollution and industrialisation of livestock enterprises – for which the current scheme is not yet fully developed.

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