Despite the signing this week of the 5,000th environmentally sensitive area agreement some farmers believe the term...
Despite the signing this week of the 5,000th environmentally sensitive area agreement some farmers believe the terms of ESAs are too inflexible, reported Radio 4' Farming Today programme.
Junior agriculture minister Earl Howe signed the agreement and presented a plaque to Exmoor farmer Fred Rawles, the 5,000th to sign up in the government's 10 year old scheme to pay farmers in selected tourist areas to keep their land attractive. It has a £26m budget.
Earl Howe said Britain had persuaded its European colleagues that environment schemes were essential and that was what the common agricultural policy should be about.
While Mr Rawles said the extra money was welcome, especially after a bad winter, he thought the ESA was too much of a blunt instrument, prescriptive and inflexible. It lays down detailed stocking levels for every parcel of his heather moorland. There should be a system whereby permission should be given to vary this according to the changing needs of the land.