BCPC conference: farmers and greens must co-operate to keep share of EU budget

Farmers and environmentalists must do more to work together if agriculture is to maintain a decent share of the EU’s future budget.

That was the message from the RSPB’s Mark Avery, speaking at the BCPC conference in Glasgow yesterday (16 October).

Payments were increasingly moving towards so-called Pillar II measures (such as stewardship) and failing to embrace such moves could mean money being distributed to other areas of rural or economic development outside agriculture, he said.

“Unless agriculture joins with environmentalists, the amount of money available will get smaller, which will be to nobody’s benefit.”

Compared with other European countries, he said the adoption of Pillar II measures in the UK had been particularly successful. The uptake of stewardship schemes meant that cirl bunting numbers, for example, had increased significantly since the mid-90’s.

But he was worried what impact the ‘biofuel boom’ and associated demand for land would have on biodiversity. “Voluntary schemes can’t be relied on to deliver environmental goals. The direction we’re going in feels like the wrong one to me and I’m not sure government and farming unions should be so bullish about biofuels.”

The current CAP ‘health check’ would further highlight the importance of meeting environmental goals, added John Marsh from the University of Reading. “Pillar II measures have not yet been fully applied or funded across the EU, which was part of the reason for having this health check.

“Also, the EU will have to develop a new financial perspective for beyond 2013 because governments don’t want to find more money and there is increasingly a greater demand for help in Eastern Europe,” he said.

“We’re at a critical point. Decisions made over the next few years will have a major influence on what land managers do,” Mr Avery said.

Farmers Weekly Awards 2021

Enter or nominate today

Farmers Weekly Awards 2021

Enter or nominate today

Online grain trading made easy with Farmers Weekly Graindex

It takes just a couple of minutes to create a listing on Farmers Weekly Graindex and you’ll get a range of prices to compare from active buyers who want your grain.
Visit Farmers Weekly Graindex