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Should shoots be subsidised?

DEFRA should recognise the financial contribution that shooting makes to the rural economy in its Rural Development Programme for the 2015 to 2020 period. That is one of the key recommendations made by BASC in its response to the consultation on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) implementation in England.

The consultation is looking at how the CAP subsidies will be spent. According to BASC, the implementation could provide direct financial support for shooting as an activity, as well as indirectly through financing conservation and the creation of habitats.

Other key points in BASC’s response were to bring attention to the close link between farmers and shooters as practical environmentalists, as well as the conservation gains that shooting can bring on a landscape scale.

BASC also states that DEFRA should build on the success of the Country Sports South West Project, which it funded.

It adds that it would like to see the adoption of an EU regulation, which seeks to promote diversification into non-agricultural activities, because these can address sustainable management of hunting-related resources. It would also like to see business start-up aid for non-agricultural activities in rural areas and other investment in the creation and development of non-agricultural activities.

Paul Williamson, BASC’s rural land development manager, said: “The reforms to the CAP are fundamentally important. The CAP provides an essential income stream to farmers. Without farmers and landowners there would be no shooting.

“Shooting is at the heart of the countryside and an important contributor to conservation and the rural economy. It is essential that shooting is represented during the CAP consultation.”

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