Bodies safeguarding the environment and natural world have warned the Government that the UK farming industry will need billions of pounds to commit to tackling climate change and protect the natural environment.
According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Trust and the Wildlife Trust, the £3.2 billion spent across the UK on farm support and environmental payments under the EU system must be re-invested to help farmers produce food in a way that helps nature.
The bodies have pointed out that the current EU-wide subsidy regime, which mainly pays farmers for the amount of land they have, will have to be replaced. Moreover, farmers across all UK regions will need at least £2.9 billion to pay for measures that support nature-friendly farming.
Farmers would need the money to pay for schemes to help boost farmland wildlife such as lapwings, hares and pollinating insects, and create and enhance habitats including wildflower meadows, peatland and woodlands.
Furthermore, they would need funding to protect soils, important for storing carbon, producing food and ensuring healthy natural systems, and cut emissions by restoring wetlands and planting trees and hedges.
According to the environmental organisations, the industry would require guaranteed funding for at least 10 years after the switch away from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) system to pay for all of this.
A Defra spokeswoman said that when the UK has left the European Union, the Government will create an ambitious new system based on paying public money for public goods, which will help farmers become more profitable while sustaining the environment and tackling the effects of climate change.
Martin Johnson, Manager at Milsted Langdon, said: “The research shows that the agriculture sector will need significant investment in order to reach environment targets such as climate change and protecting the natural environment. It’s imperative that farmers receive the necessary support to ensure that these targets can be met.