What are the threats to HNV farming?
The message is simple! Although large amounts of public money are spent on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), most of this is not targeted to the farms that deliver the most for society. As the benefits HNV farms provide are mostly unrewarded, many of these farms are struggling to survive. Existing support mechanisms such as agri-environment have helped to slow the loss of these systems, but are typically insufficient to make HNV farms commercially viable. Market forces and social pressures are leaving farmers with a stark choice between intensifying, abandoning parts of their farms and in some cases ceasing to farm altogether, all of which will have disastrous consequences for wildlife dependent upon these systems and the survival of these rural communities.
What needs to change?
HNV farming systems provide vital services and are of cultural importance, but they receive inadequate public support and many are threatened. Although EU Member States are required to identify, support and monitor their HNV farming systems, so far, little progress has been made. As a coalition we have written to Owen Patterson MP (Secretary of State), Richard Lochhead MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Scotland), Michelle O’Neil MLA (Agriculture Minister, Northern Ireland) and Alun Davies AM (Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Wales), calling on the UK Government and Devolved Administrations to do more to secure the future of these existing systems which are of the highest environmental value before it is too late.