FEBRUARY 20, 2009: The Government proposal that would require arable farmers to manage a percentage of their land to recreate the environmental benefits generated by set-aside fails to take account of the increased level of environment management undertaken by farmers since 2005, the CLA says.

CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: “For over 12 months we have been calling for a voluntary approach to be developed instead of using legislation in order to encourage farmers to manage the environment alongside food production. “The evidence from scientific reports commissioned by Defra to assess the impacts of the removal of set aside suggest that the environmental benefits of set aside were site specific. “This has led the industry to propose that should any mitigation methods be implemented then a more targeted approach, utilising existing tools such as encouraging the adoption of specific land management options through Stewardship, would deliver greater environmental gains than if legislation were imposed.”The new additional measures proposed for inclusion in cross compliance will only apply to England which will put English farmers at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world, including the UK devolved administrations,” said the CLA President. “The new proposals are going to create significant administrative costs for both government agencies and farmers with questionable environmental output,” he said.

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