Farmers threaten to quit NFU as leader supports removal of natural benefits | Agriculture

Farmers are threatening to quit the National Farmers’ Union after its leader said she supports the UK government’s apparent move to scrap nature’s benefits post-Brexit.

at the end of this week , Observer detection That the government was about to give up the “Brexit Bonus”, which it would have done Paid for farmers and landowners to promote naturein what wildlife groups have described as a “total attack” on the environment.

Instead of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (Elms), which has been revealed by Defra sources, they are considering paying a set annual amount for each acre of land they own, which would be similar to land owners – the EU’s Basic Payment Scheme for Agricultural Policy common.

Minette Butters, president of the NFU, said she welcomes the exit from Elms. “My absolute priority is to ensure that farmers can continue to produce the nation’s food – so I am in favor of maintaining direct payments in order to build a scheme that truly achieves food production and the environment,” she said.

She later doubled down on this point, telling the BBC she believed private money should be used to pay farmers to restore wildlife, rather than public money. She said, “We have actually got billions and billions of pounds of green finance looking to invest in wild environments. We have to get the private sector to work effectively.”

Senior members of the NFU spoke to The Guardian, saying they were tempted to resign if the leadership failed to clarify its position and support environmental protection payments.

Jake Freestone, a rolling farmer and union county chairperson of Worcestershire, has won awards for the quality of its soil after practicing nature-friendly farming. While he said he had not yet reached the point of resigning, he seemed frustrated by the NFA’s clear views on Elms.

“We need to focus on the environment as well as food production and what worries me is if we are going to do a lot of environmental protection on the basis of food security. But we are very happy with productive agriculture here and we also provide good environmental protection – if you don’t have wildlife, pollinators and farm birds, what do you have? ? ” He said.

“Our challenge is that NFU has a lot of diverse members with a lot of different interests.”

Martin Lines, Nature Friendly . chair Agriculture Network (NFFN), he said many of his fellow farmers were leaving the National Farmers’ Federation because of his anti-nature stance.

“I know a lot of NFU members who are either very unhappy or have already left,” he said. “Unfortunately, many farmers are members because they feel that no other agricultural body in the past has been a voice for agriculture. I know many farmers who leave NFU and join organizations like Country Land and Business Association (CLA), NFFN and others, because NFU It does not represent their views or their voices.

“Many farmers are beginning to realize that NFU does not represent or support their farming system or their voice.”

Mark Tufnell, president of the CLA, which represents 30,000 landowners, said he hoped the government would stick to Elms. “There is a concern that there might be a change of direction, it’s hard to go in so early and say it’s not working because it hasn’t been given a chance,” he said.

On NFU policy, he said, “You have to ask the NFU. We have been actively stating since around 2017 that we have always felt that it is very difficult to justify paying farmers and landowners a flat rate just for owning the land. The benefit of Elms is that the more public goods you offer, Your profit increases, and you can stack the amounts you make in the general scheme with the special item.”

NFU has been pressured by some influential voices opposing Elms. Celebrities, including TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson, former Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey and former cricketers Ian Botham and David Gower have written to the government asking them to repeal environmental regulations.

Writing as “rural voices” doing “real work” that includes “cultivating the soil, caring for sick animals and bringing in the harvest,” they said, environmental regulations on farmers “seek to quell the insatiable demands of a few honest activists.”

“We are pleased that the government is reviewing the framework for future agricultural regulation to help ensure that agribusiness is supported through current economic challenges and can make progressive decisions to advance the growth and contribution of agriculture to the nation,” Butters said Monday.

“The NFU has always supported the ‘public money for public goods’ policy but we have called for a delay because the scheme was not fit for purpose and ready for implementation in its current form.”

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