NFU Environment Forum chair Richard Bramley presented to the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum at an event on natural capital protection and restoration in England.
The need to produce food
Mr Bramley opened the discussion by outlining the pressures of living on a densely populated island. These include the need to accommodate infrastructure, industrial development, homes and businesses, as well as the need to produce food for a growing population and to maintain a treasured landscape, protecting and restoring habitats, alongside the biodiversity these support.
He also highlighted the societal benefits of a thriving countryside for exercise, respite, wellbeing and rural business.
Establishing, maintaining and improving habitats
Mr Bramley went on to highlight the commitment and progress already made by British farming towards establishing, maintaining and improving habitats.
He said: "Farms have a challenging task currently supplying our needs nutritionally as a nation in a continuingly challenging financial arena.
"Given the potential impacts of climate change on global food supplies we must keep a very strong focus on the strategic importance of home production food whilst looking to maintain and improve our natural capital."
25-year environment plan
Since the referendum, government is focused on achieving milestones set out in the 25-year environment plan aiming to improving the environment, within a generation, and leaving it in a better state than we found it. It details how government will work with communities and businesses to do this.
Mr Bramley highlighted to the event that we should not lose sight of striking the right balance between our productive landscape and the need to deliver for the environment.
Farmers' enthusiasm need for ELMs
Mr Bramley stressed that farmers' enthusiasm will be critical for the success of the new ELMs – which needs to come through ownership of the programme, reward for the effort and results.
He also highlighted the need to value the steps and progress that farmers had already made towards creating, building and maintaining habitats.
Concerns about public and private funding
Mr Bramley outlined the concerns farmers have when it comes to the technicalities of public and private funding including the risks of being at the mercy of large corporations and investors.
He concluded by saying: "Public goods is the hook upon which we are hanging so much of nature recovery. How well does the public understand what is being done in their name?"