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Stackyard News Jul 06

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Farmers are stewards of the countryside says Environment Agency

Farmers are building on their traditional role as custodians of the countryside according to a new report being published today by the Environment Agency.

citrus longhorn beetle

The Environment: What’s in it for you? is a spotlight on business performance and the way industries – including agriculture – affect the countryside.

The NFU is encouraged by figures in the report which show:

• There are 21,305 Entry Level Stewardship schemes in England and 2,243 in Wales, with farmers working to bring benefits for the whole environment.

• More than half of those ELS contain measures protecting the soil and watercourses.

• Water polluting incidents by farmers fell by 10 per cent last year.

• Under the Voluntary Initiative pesticides are being used more efficiently.

The report says: “Many farmers already farm in a way that protects the environment. We’d like to encourage more businesses in the farming sector to rise to the environmental challenges and build the environment into their business.

“By doing this they can gain economic benefits as well as protect the environment now and for the future.”

Although the report highlights six farms who were fined for environmental offences it is generally very positive about the role of farmers. However the NFU accepts there is still more work to do.

NFU President Peter Kendall said: “This is a positive look at the environmental performance of farming businesses. Farmers have worked, and continue to work, hard to adapt their businesses to make them as environmentally sustainable as possible and we are pleased the Agency is able to acknowledge the improvements seen.

“The Agency says its will support farmers in the future by promoting voluntary measures and we believe this is absolutely essential. Schemes such as the Voluntary Initiative and Entry Level Stewardship scheme will continue to play a vital role in improved environmental performance for the entire industry.”

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