CPRE consults on Farming policy for the future

by Jane Michell

At a recent meeting of the Farming & Environmental Land Management topic group to discuss the draft CPRE farming policy paper there were representatives from five other CPRE groups including myself for CPRE Cornwall. 
 Graeme Willis, CPRE Farming specialist, opened the meeting by describing what this draft policy is to address. It is meant for CPRE and a wider coalition of partners, including DEFRA, the Soil Association, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts among others, and is intended to be a guide as to what CPRE would like to focus on at national level. He felt that it was important to understand the wider context – hence the amount of detail included in the paper, which some people had commented upon. It also gives credibility to the document by making it clear that they know what they are talking about. This meeting was to enable the regional groups to comment and make suggestions, which Graeme would then incorporate if possible. Points raised and discussed in some depth included:
  • The use of the word ‘optimise’ in relation to the carrying capacity of the land. Some people felt that ‘working with’ the carrying capacity might be better as optimising it was paving the way for carrying on as usual, i.e., overstocking and then compensating by adding artificial fertilizers, herbicides, etc.
  • The need for a glossary to include words like ‘sustainable’ and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  • The need for coordination of development planning,
  • The need for agricultural out-buildings to be converted into better planned and affordable homes rather than holiday lets,
  • Inclusion of forestry management as a desirable farming method.
  • Undercover horticulture and diversification.
  • There should be a vision of how landscape will change and how to resolve that at local level. Graeme was not sure whether the present CPRE document can provide that vision but a mechanism about how it changes might be possible.
 Feedback from Cornwall CPRE indicated that support for farmers was felt to be important as well as animal welfare and putting policy ahead of strategy.
Photo Credit: Rowena Swallow