Farmers and landowners have questioned why they should only be paid for certain public goods when they branded each ‘equally as important’ as another.
A discussion into what public goods farmers and landowners should be paid for caused a stir after delegates were asked to pledge support for what they proposed the most significant issue facing the industry.
Speakers at Oxford Real Farming Conference called for support on six individual issues including the growth of fruit and vegetables, water maintenance, animal welfare, insects, people and trees.
Further demand from the audience prompted carbon to be added to the list.
When asked to vote on a preference at the end of the session, delegates called for the vote to include an integrated approach after David Bowles, RSPCA assistant director of public affairs, insisted there was ‘enough money to go around’.
Sustainable farm campaign coordinator at Sustain Vicki Herd, who presented the case for people, agreed the schemes should be ‘working together’.
A lady in the audience said she was disappointed to see the goods being voted against each other whilst others said each were equally as important.
A pitch on dung beetles stole the show winning the most delegate votes, after Worcestershire Wildlife Trust farm manager Caroline Corsie told the conference the industry needed ‘working, natural predecessors’.
She said dung beetles saved the UK cattle industry in the region of £367m which she said was about two times more than what pollinators provide.
“Dung beetles do this by taking dung and putting it into the soil which improves the flow of water through the soil, it encourages grass growth and redeveloping’s in the process of parasites which would be subsequently affecting the cattle,” Ms Corsie said.
“There is no silver bullet – we need a package with sweeter options.”
Ms Corsie said the industry needed a ‘win win’ solution with an Environment Act, which she said should be ‘something with teeth; a powerful independent body with strong regulation’.
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