Farming is in a unique position to deliver for the environment so long as there are productive and viable businesses available, with food at their heart, says the NFU.
The union, which also said it believes farming and the environment must go hand-in-hand in the future, was responding to the Government’s newly-announced 25-year Environmental Plan.
Launched by the Prime Minister, the wide-ranging 150-page strategy sets out government action to help the natural world regain and retain good health, aiming to deliver cleaner air and water in cities and rural landscapes, while also protecting threatened species and providing richer wildlife habitats.
In declaring such goals, however, the new plan also calls for an approach to agriculture, forestry, land use and fishing that puts the environment first.
The NFU view, in response to this call, was to issue its own plea for a “coherent approach” throughout the next 25 years of UK environmental development.
“British farming has a unique role in producing a safe, affordable and high quality supply of food as well as protecting, maintaining and enhancing 70% of the nation’s iconic countryside,” said NFU vice president Guy Smith. “That only remains feasible, however, as long as farmers run sustainable and viable businesses.
“We provide the raw materials for a domestic food industry that employs 3.8m people and which, as the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, generates £112bn in value for the UK economy. This is why we welcomed the Secretary of State’s commitment last week to create a national food policy and his recognition that food is at the heart of viable farming businesses.
“It’s vital therefore that a holistic approach is taken and that the new environment plan must go hand-in-hand with a future food policy, where measures for protecting and enhancing the environment are joined up with policies to improve productivity and manage volatility to ensure that we have profitable, productive and progressive farm businesses post-Brexit.”