Moo-ve with the times
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)