Activity with the Environment Forum highlights the huge body of work in this arena.
The government’s committed programme to improve the environment is clear as set out by the 25-year plan.
What is largely missing is the other key use of our countryside, namely farm produce and the businesses and rural communities that it supports.
As farmers we play a critical role in air and water quality, nature and biodiversity, maintaining our landscape and addressing climate change.
“Key work in the coming year will be around getting ELMs to work for all, especially filling the huge gaps in, for example, the uplands”
NFU Environment Forum chair Richard Bramley
Striking a balance
We have a delicate balance to strike – delivering societal needs for raw materials as well as the whole host of ‘public goods’ expected by society, government and increasingly our supply chains.
The need to protect and enhance our environment is central. All this is happening in one of the most volatile production cycles I think many will have known.
Simple choices can have big impacts on margins; profit or loss.
At the same time, decades of reliance on various iterations of ‘support’ for the sector are being removed and only partially replaced.
Creating an environmental scheme fit for all
Key work in the coming year will be around getting ELMs (Environmental Land Management scheme) to work for all, especially filling the huge gaps in, for example, the uplands.
It’s the government’s flagship for delivering nature improvement and recognising public goods delivered by our farms; but we must not lose sight of the production element.
Water will be a key focus – improving quality, increasing resilience to too much and too little as we potentially enter 2023 with quite a deficit at the time of writing. Ongoing work on climate friendly farming, net zero and efficiency will go on.
The EFRA Select Committee will be looking at the impacts of species introduction and there’s also likely to be a major body of work for us to feed into the development of a Defra Land Use Framework.
As always, it is a complex picture which all too frequently is misrepresented and misunderstood. Having a strong NFU is essential to getting the farming voice heard.