Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, one of our partners in the Aire and Calder Catchment Partnership, have published an outstanding report illustrating how farm payments could be used to actively promote ecological and societal benefits (rather than, as often with the current system, to pay farmers for not polluting our ecosystem). The report uses the Aire Catchment as an example, showing the substantial benefits in terms of biodiversity, habitat creation, flood risk management, water quality, access, carbon storage and conservation of heritage and geologically important sites.
YWT argue that the “…approach represents a radical departure from the current system delivering huge public benefit at the same cost as the current CAP. Value for money is assured through local delivery of public benefit and direct payments for output based measures. “
To quote from the introduction to the report:
This paper is designed as a contribution to an immensely important debate – the development of English Agricultural Policy after the UK leaves the European Union (Brexit). This debate is fundamental to the quality of life of all UK citizens as agriculture is by far the most dominant land-use in the UK – occupying about 80% of England’s land surface.
The paper applies some emerging thinking to a practical case study. The wider context for this worked example is described and set within a range of recent policy documents including:
Future land management policy (The Wildlife Trusts England, August 2017)
Headline Principles for Future Agriculture Land Management (Greener UK Coalition, April 2017)
Agriculture at a Crossroads (Greener UK Coalition, October 2016)
New markets and public goods (National Trust, 2016)
Farming and Land Management Policy (Wildlife and Countryside Link, September 2017)
The paper uses the Aire Catchment in Yorkshire as a case-study to examine the impact of changing policy to direct contracting for public benefits and services. It concludes that a move away from subsidy to direct public contracts for identified public goods, if managed well, would be transformational and dramatically secure environmental, quality of life and economic benefit for all, not least the UK’s farming industry.