Farmers urged to learn from organic sector
MAINSTREAM agriculture can learn lessons from the organic sector which will help the industry produce more from less, agriculture minister Jim Paice told the Sentry conference held at Chilford Hall in Cambridgeshire this week.
In particular, mainstream farmers could learn about conserving soils from their organic counterparts. “We need to move away from past when we would exploit our soils.”
He said the government was committed to developing “the very best science” that supports innovations and “answers the questions that we face” as well as transferring that knowledge to farmers.
Harnessing new technologies to increase productivity and maximise gains from reducing resources was vital. “No single technology will enable us to meet that,” he said. However precision farming techniques would be particularly important.
Speaking to a packed Sentry Confence at Chilford Hall in his constituency of South Cambridgeshire Mr Paice said that it was “extremely important that the CAP encouraged innovation.”
He wants to see a shift of resources from pillar one to pillar two. “The whole issue of environmental care must be central to CAP in future but I have reservations of it being some sort of top up to pillar one. We would be paying farmers for what they are already doing.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty as to what the EC’s proposing on that front.”
Mr Paice reiterated his promise not to end subsidies “tomorrow or even the next day”. However there was a smaller CAP budget this time around and it was important that it benefitted tax payers and the environment as well as farmers.
He also renewed his call to farmers to sign up to the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. “Despite my commitment to deregulation there has to be delivery of the Campaign for the Farmed Environment, otherwise there will be voices calling for return of compulsory set-aside.”
He said he was excited by the younger generation of farmers who want a chance to compete and not rely on subsidies. “The coming years and decades will provide you with opportunity – it will be up to you whether you take it.”