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Link’s Agriculture Working Group seeks to conserve the natural and historic environment and improve animal welfare by seeking improvements to agriculture and land management policy.

Chair: Helen Chesshire, Woodland Trust
Vice Chair: Tom Lancaster, RSPB
Policy and Campaigns Manager: Zoe Davies, Link

Update from the group:

Link’s Agriculture Group continues to focus on the impacts of Brexit on farming and land management - specifically the replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy as the UK leaves the EU. The Group continues to work in partnership with Greener UK, Sustain, and with our colleagues in the devolved countries through Environment Links UK, to ensure we advocate effectively for the best possible outcomes for post-Brexit agriculture policy across the UK.

Link published a landmark piece of research in June which showed that, despite often being framed as sitting on opposite sides of the fence, farmers and conservationists are largely on the same page about the direction of future farming policy. The research is a clear call to government to deliver an ambitious Agriculture Bill and future policy that ensures farming and nature survive and thrive.

Link’s report “Putting our eggs in a better basket: A survey of English farmers’ opinions on agriculture policy” shows that 80% of farmers believe the health of the natural environment is important or very important for their farm business. Furthermore, half (50%) of farmers agree with the principle of ‘public money for public goods’ (one third are neutral, and one in five disagree with the principle), and two thirds of farmers say regulation is important or very important to protect standards in the farming industry. Increased weather volatility, e.g. flood and drought caused by climate change, is the second most commonly reported problem facing farmers (affecting 40%), second only to increased costs and reduced profit margins (affecting 51%). Farmers cite lack of access to capital and uncertainty caused by Brexit as by far the biggest barriers to making environmental and other improvements to their farm business.

Alongside its work with Greener UK on the Agriculture Bill, the Group is developing its thinking on Environmental Land Management (ELM) – the key policy that will flow from the Bill. It is essential, for farmers, wildlife and future generations, that Government gets this critical new policy right, so Link is working closely with Defra on complex aspects of ELMS such as governance, monitoring and evaluation, regulation and enforcement. For example, Link recently published its ‘Principles for a Future Regulatory Framework’ to inform Defra’s plans for regulatory reform.

For further information, contact Zoe Davies, Link’s Policy and Campaigns Manager.

Last updated: 30 September 2019