We need a thriving and profitable farming industry to produce
our food, to deliver the landscapes we value and to help meet our
future energy needs, Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs told farmers today.
Speaking at the National Farmers' Union Conference 2006 in Birmingham,
she outlined a number of measures and announcements which will help farmers
and rural communities, working in partnership with government, to achieve
- Consultations on the priorities for the next Rural Development Programme and
specific measures for hill farming
- A consultation on a grant scheme for farmers in priority catchments which
will support them in reducing the impact of nitrates, pesticides and
other pollutants on rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters
- A consultation on how almost £1/2 billion of sugar reform should
be incorporated within the Single Payment Scheme
- The establishment of a delivery group, under the leadership of Sir
Don Curry, to take forward the future implementation of the Sustainable
Farming and Food Strategy;
- The first of the £1.6 billion of Single Payment Scheme (SPS)
payments for English farmers had gone into bank accounts the previous
As an example of what can be achieved by constructive co-operation within
the food chain, Mrs Beckett also announced a new commitment by Tesco to
boost fresh British food through promotion of regional and local products.
She invited the NFU to join with Defra and Tesco to work on new ways to
bring value to British food so that it achieves a price premium in the
Mrs Beckett added:
"The Government wants British farming to succeed. We want a world-class
industry that is valued for its contribution to the economy and the
"I am very pleased to announce that the first payments under the
Single Payment Scheme were made to English farmers last week. This is
a hugely important milestone in freeing farmers from the pursuit of
chasing production-linked subsidy, helping to transform the industry
into one with real and profitable connections to consumers and retailers.
"The next Rural Development Programme for England will begin next
year and I want to hear people's views on what the focus for the Programme
should be and how we can ensure that we deliver a range of benefits
to rural communities and the environment.
"Over 25% of English farm land is under some kind of environmental
agreement, delivering money into the rural economy and protecting the
environment, and we are committed to continuing with Environmental Stewardship
in the next programme."
The next Rural Development Programme will run from 2007
to 2013. The consultation paper proposes priorities for the next Programme
under three themes: enhancing the environment and countryside; making
agriculture and forestry more competitive and sustainable; enhancing opportunity
in rural areas.
Proposals for future support arrangements for upland farmers will also
form part of the next Rural Development Programme. Agricultural activity
has largely shaped the upland landscapes that we value and provides many
of the tools with which to manage them now and in the future. Views are
being invited on how best to support hill farmers in the next Programme.
The Catchment Sensitive Farming consultation asks for
views on this £5 million scheme which would operate for a limited
period during 2007 - 08, including proposed grant rates and maximum
levels of aid. The scheme aims to improve agricultural practice in forty
priority areas across the country and reduce the impact of nitrates,
pesticides and other pollutants on rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal
waters. The Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative aims to
raise awareness of diffuse water pollution from agriculture, and the
requirements and potential impacts of the EU's Water Framework Directive.
Grant Helps Secure Future Of Century-old Society
Development Service Paves The Way For New Rural Funding Schemes
Farmer Brews Up New Attraction For Northumberland