Green Farming Standard call
INTRODUCING a new "green mark" for food produced to high environmental standards would benefit the countryside and give farmers the chance to boost their incomes, according to the National Trust.
The countrys largest non-government landowner and conservation organisation is calling for the development of a Green Farming Standard aimed at farmers with integrated farming systems.
The organisation suggests the schemes requirements should be lower than organic standards but higher than minimum legal requirements.
It says farmers who produce food in an environmentally friendly way, but are not organic, should have the opportunity to be rewarded in the market place by premium prices.
The idea is one of 10 included in a new report, Farming Forward, which is the Trusts vision for the future of farming.
It says building a new "contract" of understanding between farmers and the public is vital to develop a future for farming.
The organisation makes it clear it believes taxpayers should continue to support the industry financially. "Society should be prepared to reward the provision of public goods and services such as access to high-quality landscapes, wildlife protection and water management," it says.
But it admits that it is critically important for the future of the industry that confidence in farming is restored. It suggests young people should be targeted, proposing a joint government-industry voucher scheme offering a free farm visit for every school child and their family. *