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Farm subsidy system ‘inefficient, ineffective, inequitable and environmentally harmful’, says Gove

PUBLISHED: 16:23 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:40 28 November 2017

Environment Secretary Michael Gove  at the second annual CLA Rural Business Conference in Westminster on November 28, 2017. Picture: ANDREW HENDRY

Environment Secretary Michael Gove at the second annual CLA Rural Business Conference in Westminster on November 28, 2017. Picture: ANDREW HENDRY

Andrew Hendry Photographer

The current farm subsidy system is “inefficient, ineffective, inequitable, and environmentally harmful”, the environment secretary has told landowners.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove  at the second annual CLA Rural Business Conference in Westminster on November 28, 2017. Picture: ANDREW HENDRY Environment Secretary Michael Gove at the second annual CLA Rural Business Conference in Westminster on November 28, 2017. Picture: ANDREW HENDRY

Michael Gove declared that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will streamline and simplify support “to free up farmers to do what they do best” when he addressed the Country Land and Business Association’s (CLA) annual Rural Business Conference on Tuesday, November 28.

“I have set out plans to improve our current schemes, starting with simplifying support for farmers to protect and enhance our landscapes and countryside,” he said.

“But these measures are just the beginning - the first steps towards a simplified system of support.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working closely with our farmers to make sure we listen to what they want as we design a new approach and realise our vision for the future of UK food and farming outside the EU.”

He stressed the need to change the UK invests in the countryside so farmers can more readily access support to protect wildlife, enhance the environment and improve land use as he announced simplifications to the Countryside Stewardship scheme through the creation of four new streamlined offers to be launched in January.

CLA president Tim Breitmeyer, who farms on the Essex/Cambridgeshire border welcomed the commitment to streamlining support.

“Farmers and landowners want to continue providing the country with high quality, affordable food while protecting the environment and supporting wildlife,” he said.

“We look forward to working with him to drive up participation in crucial schemes to protect and enhance landscapes and the environment.”

Jenna Hegarty, head of land use policy at conservation charity the RSPB, said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s ambition to make Countryside Stewardship more effective, which will allow more farmers to help wildlife on their land.

“This is a crucial step towards realising his aim to refocus agriculture policy to provide clear benefits for people, nature and the future of farming.”

The government is planning to publish an Agriculture Bill in 2018 and is set to consult with those involved in the UK food and farming industry in the New Year.

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