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Defra boss shares rural vision

Environment secretary Michael Gove says he wants to get away from subsidies linked to the size of land holding.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Stuart Forster/REX/Shutterstock (8974620a) Pastoral land in the Eden Valley in Cumbria, England. The rolling landscape of the North Pennines is known as sheep farming land. Brough in Cumbria, UK - 09 Jun 2016

Rural groups have welcomed the commitment to British farming shown by Defra secretary Michael Gove as he set out his vision for the future of the industry in a speech earlier this month.

Speaking at the 2018 Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Gove highlighted issues he wished to tackle to ensure a “green Brexit”, including a move away from subsidies linked to the size of land holding and towards more agri-environment schemes.

Investment in technology and skills

National Farmers’ Union president Meurig Raymond responded: “I was pleased to hear the secretary of state talking about the need to invest in technology, skills and rural resilience — all of which he says are public goods.

“Michael Gove also spoke about the importance of delivering benefits for the environment, something that farmers already advocate and perform highly on.

“Mr Gove was absolutely right to recognise the vital contribution that uplands farmers have in maintaining their iconic landscape.”

Cutting the red tape

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust said it looked forward to working closely with Defra on issues such as “the need to reduce red tape for farmers, the absolute priority of addressing our soil health
in the UK and the assurances given to farmers that their subsidies would continue but would focus more on rewarding environmentally beneficial farming practices”.

CLA director of policy Christopher Price said: “This speech is the latest evidence that the Government is embracing our vision for a new policy based on rewarding farmers for the range of public benefits they deliver.”