Moo-ve with the times

Country Life Every Week - - Letters To The Editor -

YOUR ed­i­to­rial (‘Don’t kill the golden goose’, Au­gust 24) sug­gests that the CPRE favours com­mu­nity own­er­ship of land, not re­al­is­ing that big farms ‘can do many things well’. This is not the po­si­tion set out in our New Model Farm­ing re­port. We fully ac­knowl­edge the en­light­ened record of many large farm­ers and landown­ers. Big is not nec­es­sar­ily bad and small is not nec­es­sar­ily good.

How­ever, UK farm­ers cur­rently re­ceive €3.1 bil­lion a year in pub­lic sub­sidy, most of which is paid out purely on the ba­sis of the size of the land­hold­ing, with very lit­tle ex­pected in re­turn (Opin­ion, page 72). Post-brexit, we have the chance to re­think how we sup­port farm­ing. One aim should be greater di­ver­sity in the sec­tor, en­cour­ag­ing new en­trants and younger farm­ers rather than con­tin­u­ing a de facto pol­icy of en­cour­ag­ing farm merg­ers. We have lost 34,000 farms in the past 10 years. Do we re­ally want this trend to con­tinue?

Our re­port ar­gues not for the breakup of big es­tates, but that a more di­verse sec­tor will pro­duce the food we need while driv­ing in­no­va­tion and pro­vid­ing the pub­lic ben­e­fits we all want to see: more re­silient soils and beau­ti­ful land­scapes rich in na­ture. Brexit has given us an op­por­tu­nity—let’s take it. Shaun Spiers, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land (CPRE)

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