The Campaign to Protect Rural England has outlined its vision for the future of agriculture after the UK leaves the European Union in a paper titled New Model Farming. They suggest that currently too much money is given to large-scale farms and assisting smaller more diverse farms would help the countryside and rural communities says the (CPRE).
Farmers currently receive subsidies and other payments under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) - but will cease to get EU funding once the UK leaves the EU. Currently farmers get about £3bn a year in subsidies, with some of the bigger farms receiving as much as £1m. Ministers have promised to maintain EU levels of funding until at least 2020.
The grants which are given for owning land and also taking care of wildlife, can amount to up to 60% of some farmers' income. The CPRE explain that the existing level of state aid needs to be justified, with a shift away from giving money to ‘industrial farms’ stating that large-scale farms damage the environment and put smaller farmers out of business. Instead, subsidies should be directed towards smaller farms, and land should be made available for new farmers to enter the market which would benefit the countryside and help communities reconnect with farming.
Cate Le Grice Mack, from the CPRE, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there had been "a huge decline" in biodiversity in the UK. She said authorities needed to make sure we are "maximising the potential for our landscape - for food, but also for wildlife and biodiversity". "What we are saying is that farmers need encouraging and supporting and helping to actually improve the natural landscape. "They are the people who can do it, they are the people with the skills, this is about encouragement and help."