by Ben Daviss
One of the first things the United Kingdom did after leaving the European Union was to scrap the EU’s farm subsidy policy and create what one Oxford economist calls an “agricultural revolution.”
Under EU rules, farmers were paid for the amount of land they worked and the volume of crops they delivered. As a result, farmers tore up hedgerows and chopped down treelines, which led to erosion; dumped chemical fertilizers on their fields, poisoning streams, rivers, and drinking water; and worked the soil relentlessly, depleting it of its natural balance of nutrients.
Under the new policy, farmers won’t be paid just for growing food but also for serving the “public good” – restoring soils, creating and managing wildlife habitat, protecting clean water, and even maintaining scenic pastoral views.
The £3 billion amount of subsidies paid under the EU will remain the same. But, over the next seven years, the allotment for crops will shrink and more will be invested in land management contracts with farmers as the new scheme is pilot-tested.
TRENDPOST: The new UK policy redefines agriculture as not battling nature to extract food from the ground but as an integrated system of ecosystem management. If the UK’s food production remains steady under the new approach, the model is likely to spread back to Europe and beyond.
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by Ben Daviss