16 February 1996

MAFFis not green enough

CLAIMS that MAFF is responding too slowly to demands for a greening of the CAP were made at a conference in Cambridge.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) says MAFF has failed to attach environmental conditions to arable area payments, despite promising action in 1994.

It claims the extra £5m being spent on countryside stewardship for 1997/8 announced in Novembers budget has been offset by the £7m fall in the budget for the farm and conservation grant scheme in 1996/7.

Speaking at the Farming 96 conference, Fiona Reynolds, CPRE director, said there was discretion for member states individually to spend more on green farming schemes, but the UK budget in that area was less than 2% of UK CAP expenditure.

"The vast majority of agricultural spending still goes to support production, and environmental damage in the countryside continues," she added.