Farmer hits out over latest crop of cuts

A PEVENSEY farmer has spoken out on plans to slash funding for wildlife-friendly farming.

Last week, the RSPB revealed that the European Union is considering taking the axe to payments to land managers for wildlife-friendly farming, managing woodlands and protecting special areas.

The charity says it has been overwhelmed by the support from farmers, who are equally concerned that the loss of this funding will lead to a decline of wildlife on their land and a shortfall in their incomes.

Martin Hole, of Montague Farm on the Pevensey Levels, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, said, “Reducing funding for agri-environment schemes now would pull the rug out from underneath a whole industry that’s making efforts to protect wildlife.

“It would send environmental stewardship up the creek.

“Farming for wildlife is our core business and we have specialists systems in place for that purpose – we’ve transformed the farm under the scheme.

“Nesting bird populations have burgeoned as a result of the habitats we’re providing.

“But if we lost the funding we’d be forced to make radical and destructive changes in order to make a living.

“What future has wildlife got if this can be allowed to happen?”

A spokesperson from the RSPB explained many farmers around the UK already depend on payments in order to help wildlife and farm in a more sustainable way, and more have been inspired to enter the schemes.

The charity says if payments are reduced or stopped, some of the country’s most beautiful wildlife and countryside will be ‘at risk of irreversible deterioration or loss’.

Martin Harper, RSPB’s conservation director, said, “We have a dialogue with over 8,000 farmers each year.

“So we know that many farmers are very supportive of wildlife-friendly farming, but even we are stunned by the grass roots support of farmers. European support for protecting the countryside, brings benefits for wildlife, people, landscapes and the environment.It is also extremely good value for money for the taxpayer.”