Trust calls on next Government to introduce an Agriculture Bill

The county’s largest nature conservation charity is calling on the next Government to introduce an Agriculture Bill to help create a connected landscape and to enable farmers to have a better, more secure and certain future.

On the eve of the General Election, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust believe we should invest in the restoration of our land and wildlife so that it can continue to provide us with all the things we need: sustainable and nutritious food, wildlife habitats, flood and drought management, clean water and air, carbon storage and places for us to enjoy.

The Trust is hoping the next Government can fast-track the introduction of the Agriculture Bill to assist farmers. The bill has been delayed due to slow progress in the Commons and uncertainty around Brexit, and this week’s General Election.

The Trust believes that the Agriculture Bill should ensure:

·         Substantial government funds are allocated to the creation of new and expanded habitats for wildlife with appropriate provision of public access;

·         Farmers and land managers are rewarded for delivering these and other benefits to society for which the market cannot pay, such as creating habitats for wildlife, conserving soils for future generations and protecting communities against flooding; and 

·         That regulation of farming prevents damage to wildlife and ecosystems that would not only compromise wildlife now but would limit the ability of future generations to grow food and timber and have access to clean water.

The Trust works closely with local landowners across the county as part of three Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Funds and a recently launched project which aims to involve farmers in the formation of the forthcoming agri-environment schemes.

David Cadman, Senior Conservation Manager for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are hoping the greater good will win the day as the Environment and Agriculture Bills need cross-party support to progress – whatever the outcome of this week’s election.

“We think a future farming policy should be based on rewarding farmers and land managers for delivering benefits they can’t sell but that society needs. These benefits (or ‘public goods’) include maintaining important habitats like woodlands and grasslands and helping reduce the risk of flooding by holding back or storing floodwater – also called natural flood management.

“What is clear that the need to reverse nature’s decline is now more urgent than ever. Public concern over the environment has reached a record high and these bills are a critical opportunity to tackle the environment emergency and we believe it should be the highest priority for all political parties.”