Voluntary environmental efforts essential for farmers to retain Government trust

Farmers are being encouraged to add value to their land by grasping the opportunities created by new greening options and promoted by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE), an initiative backed in recent announcements by Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

CFE, an industry-led initiative of 14 partners already advises farmers across the country. However with opportunities with the new Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs), CFE is urging farmers to demonstrate how they manage their land to benefit the environment and so retain government trust.

National CFE co-ordinator Sam Durham said farmers needed to act now.

“Greening is here and the industry must build on Government trust to ensure future regulations work in our favour, while benefitting the farmed environment,” he said. “Simple voluntary environmental efforts can make Greening work for everyone.”

NFU vice president Guy Smith added it was really important that farmers get behind CFE in order to future proof their farm businesses.

“One important measure we can all do is retain the buffer zones and margins on our farms that have the most environmental impact,” he said. “These are crucial, not just for wildlife, but also for improving water quality and are an integral part of good pesticide stewardship.

“For example, on my farm we will put our ELS margins against our EFA and leave them as our EFA when our agreement runs out in 2016.”

The head of living landscape at The Wildlife Trusts, Paul Wilkinson, added CFE and its partners could provide the right advice to farmers to ensure that greening delivers maximum benefit for both wildlife and farming.

“Buffers have huge potential and can be managed and enhanced to create a network of species-rich grass margins that will benefit pollinators and other insects, as well as birds and small mammals,” he said.

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