27 September 2000
RSPB wants 20% subsidy cuts

By FWi staff

A LEADING conservationist has challenged the Government to cut production subsidies by a fifth to boost environmental and rural development.

RSPB chief executive Graham Wynne wants the Government to “modulate” 20% of production subsidies by this means within seven years.

Money taken from production payments would be used for environmental work, such as agri-environment schemes, and rural development.

This is far more ambitious than Government targets to modulate payments with a 2.5% production payment cut in 2001, rising to a 4.5% cut by 2005.

Speaking at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting, RSPB chief executive Graham Wynne said greater modulation would benefit rural economies and the environment.

He said the forthcoming Rural White Paper provided the ideal opportunity to tackle this radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

“This would help regenerate ailing rural areas, provide jobs and establish the UK as a leader for agricultural reform in Europe,” said Mr Wynne.

To back these calls, the RSPB has produced a new survey which claims that most farmers want agriculture spending to be more wildlife- and environment-focused.

A poll for the bird conservation charity found that 83% of producers agreed that a farmers stewardship over the land includes responsibility for wildlife.

Increased payments should be paid for environmentally-friendly farming, said 67% of the 615 farmers questioned.

And 53% said farming activities should meet environmental standards in return for receiving taxpayers money.