NFU blues

3 thoughts on “NFU blues”

  1. Wind ranging indeed Rob. Bravo on another successful Hay event, with a clearly engaged audience (although how diverse??) and a full and thorough trot through a wide range of #farmenviro issues.
    ”We are farmers; that is what we do” – the clue is in the name with the National Farmers Union. First and foremost they exist to amplify the voice of food producers aka farmers. As we both know, the narrative of the countryside needs to be about more than food production but critically production itself must not be sidelined. It is integral. It is part and parcel of the whole. Similarly we know that more needs to be done to improve the state of nature (State of Nature reports etc). We both know that there are a lot of farmers out there doing good work for the natural world both inside and outside of the formal stewardship schemes. However, without a truly landscape approach that brings individual farms together it is going to be difficult to make significant progress. At the moment, if you get involved in a countryside stewardship scheme (or equivalent in parts of the UK outside England) you are signing up to many hours tied up with paperwork and box ticking. Yes, there are benefits to it but there remains a lot to be improved. Public payments for public goods MUST remove as much bureaucracy as possible (which I see as impossible with the current civil service mindset) for the farmer/land manager if it is to be successful.

    When it comes to the media portraying farmers/farming – have you come across Anna Jones’ new project #JustFarmers ? –

    1. Thank you Ben. Tough call on reducing bureaucracy and ensuring public funds accountable with results producing best ‘bang for your buck’ – as Sir John Lawton once referred to conservation payments!
      Yes, have come across Anna Jones laudable ‘campaign’ #justfarmers helping farmers in communicating what they currently do, and in my eyes, more importantly talking about other ‘outputs’ they, as land managers, can provide society with in the future. Pollinator habitat, water catchment management, and landscape-scale ‘bird food’ being just three examples of ‘public goods’.

  2. You’re right Ben, simplifying the system is fundamental to better environmental delivery. Caring for the environment and conserving beautiful places also needs to be more dynamic and exciting to keep the younger generation interested. The prescriptive preservation approach will empty the uplands of people. Farmers need to be tasked with finding the solution and given the sense of ownership of the challenge. Rules are a headache we could all do without – so it is a matter of finding that sweet point with regulation which drives progress rather than stifles it (and makes us all rule breakers).

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