New Government farming announcement will frustrate farmers and fail to help nature fast enough

Combine harvesting by Paul Harris/2020VISION

The Government has announced its Agricultural Transition Plan following the Agriculture Act gaining royal assent. The Act was heralded as a new start to move away from the widely condemned EU-wide Common Agricultural Policy.

We hoped this announcement would bring rapid, positive changes for our natural world and for tackling the climate crisis as agriculture makes up 70% of land use. However, we are concerned that the announcement appears instead to promise yet more years of discussion.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“We are deeply worried that the pilot schemes, which make up much of the Government announcement, simply cannot deliver the promise that nature will be in a better state. The announcement will frustrate farmers and every single one of us who is fed-up with the steep wildlife declines that are reported with such agonising regularity.

"Four years on from the EU referendum, we still lack the detail and clarity on how farm funding will benefit the public. This is desperately needed so farm businesses can plan and, just as vitally, so that nature’s recovery can be planned alongside their work. The existing Countryside Stewardship schemes, which we would encourage all land managers to consider, have not been enough to reverse nature’s decline.

“The ongoing demise of the natural world is bad for us all. The free services that nature provides us are under huge pressure. Pollinators continue to decline, soils continue to be degraded and biodiversity continues to crash. The Common Agricultural Policy wreaked devastation on our wildlife whilst causing deep seated issues in farming communities by affecting rents and production. We must not spend the next few years just talking; nature needs the help promised by this government and we cannot afford to waste any more time."

“We urge the Government to move faster to reverse nature’s decline.”

Last week The Wildlife Trusts hosted an online debate about farming and wildlife chaired by Craig Bennett, Chief Executive. Speakers included Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union, Janet Hughes, Programme Director for Future Farming and Countryside at DEFRA and Stephen Honeywood, farmer and part of the Jordans Farm Partnership.

You can catch up here.

BBOWT have recently launched a Land Advice Service which harnesses our extensive wildlife and farming expertise to help farmers and land managers transition into the new world of sustainable agriculture. Our experienced in-house staff can advise on how to protect the environment on productive land, helping deliver essential public goods, such as soil condition and water quality, and contributing to recovering nature across the three counties. 

Find out more about our Land Advice Service

Wild flower margin in farmland

Wild flower margin by James Adler