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Back CFE or risk compulsory approach, says Jim Paice

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Compulsory options including set aside could be a real threat unless all farmers and land managers back the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) to ensure its success.

In an open letter to the industry, Minister for Agriculture, Jim Paice praised the work of the Campaign in using targeted land management to deliver valuable environmental benefits. But he warned that if more farmers dont support CFE he will consider a compulsory approach.

Mr Paice said: The Government is putting food production back up the agenda, but we have made it clear that this must be done alongside protecting and enhancing the environment and farmers must show they can do both. We want the Campaign to be a success and dont believe that we should regulate and impose more red tape if the farming community can achieve the same results through its own actions.

The CFE is the farming industrys chance to demonstrate that this voluntary approach can work better than regulation and that they are best placed to decide on, and tackle, their local environmental priorities, without intervention. But if the farming community cannot step up and achieve these results voluntarily the Government will have to consider a compulsory approach to deliver these same benefits.

NFU President Peter Kendall said: It is clear that the Campaign continues to be the industrys best opportunity to show that we can produce more while impacting less on the environment, and without the need for Government regulation.

I applaud those farmers and advisers who are ensuring that the Campaign has already had real impact. Our actions demonstrate what the CFE can deliver and ensure that the industry is in a far stronger place to shape its own future, even the shape of future CAP. I urge those who are about to renew their Environmental Stewardship agreements or considering entering, to choose key target options, those that deliver most for wildlife and resource protection. The success of our industrys campaign lies in our hands

CLA President William Worsley said: This is a critical year for the Campaign and land managers need to act now while we have the chance.

We need to show what we in the industry already know – that England’s farmers can be relied upon to conserve the natural environment so long as we are provided with the right opportunities, information and incentives.  We dont need a return to the bad old days of top-down regulation.

It is vital, particularly as spring approaches, that everyone supports the Campaign.  Whether it is cultivating a fallow plot for ground nesting birds or leaving an arable margin uncropped to benefit rare arable plants, we all need to do our bit – and to be seen to be doing our bit.

Campaign for the Farmed Environment partners are the NFU, the Country, Land and Business Association (CLA), the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Linking Environment And Farming, Defra, Natural England, the Environment Agency and the RSPB.

They have been joined by the Association of Independent Crop Consultants and the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers to create a powerful national partnership.

The Campaign website www.cfeonline.org.uk – provides useful information about the Campaign targets, themes and voluntary measures. It also highlights activities at a local level including co-ordination details, a diary of events and details of Beacon Farms.

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