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Farming: Crucial to our Countryside

Travellers Rest - Wildlife Strip Travellers Rest - Wildlife Strip © Rupert Hardy

CPRE's major concern is with the English countryside and, among the factors that influence our landscape, farming plays an important part.

Farmers need support to be able to give us the countryside we treasure. CPRE believes that farmers are entitled to long-term public subsidy to deliver, look after, conserve and manage the things that people want from the countryside - valued open landscapes and valued features such as hedgerows, habitat for wildlife, access to the countryside through a network of useable public footpaths and so on.

Farm subsidies, however, need reform. Public subsidy should include delivering these public 'goods' a well as food (but not supporting over-production). We welcome the reform in the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy. CPRE, along with other environmental groups, will continue to try to influence the way the Government (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) implements these reforms to secure maximum benefit for the environment and the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of the countryside.

Buying local foods at local outlets is one way we can all support farming. Food grown and produced in traditional ways that do not harm the environment helps to conserve valued farm landscapes.

We believe that farm diversification should respect its rural surroundings. As incomes from farming shrink, wherever possible, farmers are quite rightly seeking to develop new businesses in the countryside to give them a livelihood. CPRE recognises this, and the fact that it will create needs for new development - we accept that the countryside will continue to change. But we feel that new rural businesses which create a need for development should be based on, and be appropriate to, the countryside itself, rather than being the kind of new enterprise that could locate anywhere - and should go within towns and cities. If this approach to diversification is not taken, we fear that the countryside will become gradually more suburbanised, harming the very qualities which make it so highly valued.

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Snowdrops at St Michaels Anderson churchyard, Dorset