By Jenna Hegarty, Senior Agriculture Policy Officer
Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in well underway and the RSPB is doing all it can to remind our politicians and decision-makers that Pillar 2, which is home to agri-environment schemes, need to be more strongly championed. Agri-environment schemes reward farmers and land managers for managing their land in a way which is good for wildlife and represents a fantastic return on the public’s investment in farming. Many of you will be in schemes yourselves and will see the benefits that participation brings, from increases in wildlife to a reliable income stream (always handy when commodity and input prices remain so volatile).
Sadly, the political focus has largely been on other matters, including the overarching EU Budget (which will determine how much money the CAP gets), the distribution of CAP payments between and within countries and proposals to ‘green’ part of direct payments. This is leaving the best bit of the CAP, Pillar 2, increasingly vulnerable and we need to make the case, and make it loudly, that Pillar 2 should be protected and its funding increased as part of this reform round. We’re also calling for funding for agri-environment schemes to be ‘ring-fenced’ to reflect their importance and value for money.
If you’d like to help us make this case then there’s plenty you can do: participate in our e-action, write to Farming Minister Jim Paice to let him know you strongly support Pillar 2 and agri-environment and let your farming union representatives know so they can represent this viewpoint as an influential stakeholder.
Bee orchid: Paul Dunn - Glamorgan Heritage Coast ProjectLapwing: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com) Leveret: Anthony Griffiths