CAP could boost farming image

CAP REFORM may lead the public to think more positively about the farming industry, visitors to the Game Fair at Blenheim were told on Saturday (Jul 24).

Devon farmer Peter Walters told a FARMERS WEEKLY seminar that CAP reform was essentially about stewardship, and this could be good for public opinion as well as country sports.

“I think the public are going to be more farmer friendly because we are going to do more for the countryside,” said Mr Walters who is also a FW Farmer Focus writer.

“If we are going to be paid to manage the land, I think farming is going to be better in the public eye.”

Allan Buckwell, chief economist for the Country Land and Business Association, told the seminar that he thought the reforms would provide opportunities for country sports.

Elements of the reforms did provide opportunities for rural entrepreneurship, he said. “There are some interesting elements in this mix which can help country sports.”

“It is expected that this decoupling will lead to a reduction in intensity to some extent. If this happens it will provide opportunities to use land for other purposes such as country sports.”

Teresa Dent, chief executive of the Game Conservancy Trust, said CAP reform was almost certainly a good thing for wildlife and game conservancy.

“People will find it much easier to take land out of arable crops and put it into game crops,” she said.

“You used to sacrifice the gross margin of the crops and the subsidy, but in future you will only lose the gross margin.”

But she added there was a possibility of a downside. “If decoupling encourages less mixed farming and spring cropping that will be bad for game and wildlife.”

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