Saturday, January 28, 2023

Farmers Against Nature


The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the lobby group which represents powerful voices in the agriculture sector, questioned about the government’s proposed targets on water pollution, tree planting and rewilding.

It told the government: 

“Broadly, we consider the level of ambition across the nutrient targets to be unachievable, inconsistent and irrational. The NFU and its members are committed to building on past successes and further reducing nutrient losses to the environment from agriculture. However, this effort must be balanced with the need to produce food, fibre and energy on farm, thereby protecting the rural economy and maintaining food security.”

 It did not agree with targets to reverse species extinction, and in particular spoke out against reintroducing lost species. It said: 

“The NFU has long advocated that we should support species that are already present before we seek to introduce new species. So instead, we believe that we should aim to prevent the loss of species, as such a bespoke target approach to rare and threatened species could be beneficial in driving action to reduce biodiversity loss.”

It argued that the concept of rewilding was damaging to the countryside, warning against “adopting an approach that risks undermining the social fabric of rural communities”. It said:

 “Rewilding, for example, ignores the fact that our iconic farmed landscapes are valued by the many who make 4bn visits to the British countryside each year.”

It also said the tree planting target of 17.5% coverage was too ambitious. It said

“An increase in tree canopy and woodland cover from 14.5% to 17.5% equates to 415,000 hectares of tree cover by 2050, approximately 15,000 hectares of trees a year. This is extremely ambitious, if not unachievable.” 

Environmentalists said the NFU was “deluded and dangerous” and that it was “stunting progress towards a greener future” after its lobbying against nature restoration policies was revealed.

Rob Percival, the head of food policy at the Soil Association, said: 

“The NFU’s attitude towards environmental targets is defeatist, deluded and dangerous. There is clear scientific rationale for regenerating woodlands and increasing tree cover, but the NFU thinks it’s too difficult. Our rivers are choking on excess nutrients, primarily due to the proliferation of intensive livestock systems, but the NFU has dismissed pollution reduction targets as ‘irrational’. Instead they propose more of the same – more poultry, more pollution.

Farmers’ union called UK environment targets ‘irrational’ and ‘unachievable’ | Farming | The Guardian

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