New CAP Contract Urged to Pay for Environmental Reform; 'Changes Needed to Pay for Better Land Management' Country & Farming

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Byline: Steve Dube Farming Editor

EUROPE was urged yesterday to develop "a new contract" between taxpayers and farmers by focussing on sound environmental management in the next reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Government advisers on the countryside and environment in Britain joined forces in a Land Use Policy Group - LUPG - that launcheda Vision for the Future of the CAP post-2013 at the Bibliotheque Solvay next to the European Parliament in Brussels.

Dr John Taylor, chairman of LUPG and director of countryside policy with the Countryside Council for Wales, said the CAP should focus on the environmental services provided by those who manage rural land rather than income support.

"There are huge challenges facing Europe today, including climate change and rising human pressures on the environment, as well as the need to ensure that our rural areas are economically viable," he said. "The security of our food production, in the long term, is inextricably linked with the quality of our soil, water resources and biodiversity.

"At the same time, we need to make sure that rural land is managed in ways that help to minimise the risk of floods and droughts, reduce carbon emissions and enhance biodiversity for the benefit of everyone."

The CAP accounts for nearly half the budget of the European Union and its size has been agreed up until 2013. Negotiations are already under way to determine its future role and the size of the budget after that.

Dr Taylor said the LUPG Vision had looked at the interlinked concepts of food and environmental security and the nature of Europe's rural land use in drawing up a set of principles that the government's official countryside agencies believed should underpin further reform of CAP.

He said agriculture and forestry provided a wide range of environmental services to society that often go unrewarded by the market. …