The future of farming, the rural economy and the natural environment in England will be shaped by responses to a consultation on the Common Agricultural Policy which opened today.
The new EU rules set the framework for how Common Agricultural Policy funding may be spent, but the UK government successfully pressed the Commission to agree that each country within the UK may make choices on how CAP is implemented from 2015.
Defra is now seeking views on how the Common Agricultural Policy should be implemented in England in order to deliver value for money for the public.
Farming Minister George Eustice said:
The UK ensured that we have choices in how we implement the Common Agricultural Policy, rather than having to work with a one-size-fits-all approach from the European Commission.
This gives us the flexibility to target funding in ways that will deliver real benefits to the environment, boost the competitiveness of our farming industry and grow the rural economy. It’s vital that the new system is designed with the input of the people whose lives it will affect. That’s why it’s so important that people give us their views on how we can best achieve this.
Defra is inviting input into the design of a straightforward system that is effective, easy to follow and avoids the significant fines charged to UK taxpayers under the current Common Agricultural Policy.
The consultation responses will also shape the future of the Common Agricultural Policy in England, particularly with regard to transferring up to 15 per cent from the budget for payments made directly to farmers to payments to improve the environment and projects to improve farm competitiveness and boost economic growth. This is subject to evidence from the consultation that additional funding in these areas would prove value for money.
The consultation is wide ranging in its scope:
Growing the rural economy.
The consultation sets out the potential to grow the rural economy, for example through business grants and investment in rural tourism.
Improving farm competitiveness and making things simpler.
Views are sought on how the Common Agricultural Policy can be implemented in England with minimal burdens and how CAP can support businesses to thrive and become less reliant on subsidies.
Protecting the natural environment.
Defra has proposed that a new environmental land management scheme should replace existing environmental stewardship schemes and also cover forestry. The consultation invites responses on how the Common Agricultural Policy can best benefit wildlife and improve natural landscapes.
The consultation will explore options for the Common Agricultural Policy to do more for pollinators, including shaping the new environmental controls that are part of direct payments, voluntary action under the Campaign for the Farm Environment and the new environmental land management scheme.
Responses to the consultation can be made:
Defra will also host social media debates and regional engagement events (including workshops) which will inform the formal consultation. More information on workshops being held around the country and how to register your interest