Why pay farmers to protect birds?
Decisions are due by the Government on the next round of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Specifically, Defra ministers will shortly announce how much CAP funding should be diverted in England from production-linked subsidies (Pillar 1) to agri-environment schemes (Pillar 2). Both benefit farmers but pay them to do different things. There has been recent debate on this, such as this article by Memphis Barker in The Independent that references the environmental and economic benefits of the full 15% being transferred. A recent inquiry by the EFRA Select Committee opted in favour of transferring a lesser amount, 9%, at least initially, as proposed by the NFU.
The analysis shows that the full 15% needs to be transferred if we are to at least maintain the current pace of habitat restoration in this country. This is necessary to help correct decades of degradation and decline as natural habitats have lost out to land-use changes, development and intensive agriculture. Even if the full 15% is transferred, the Government is still unlikely to meet its own biodiversity targets unless additional sources of funding are found. The second blog in this series will consider where other funding might come from.
More information is available here.