environment, food and rural affairs, is needed now to create a prosperous
future for farming and the rural economy, according to the Countryside Agency.
'Now is the time to turn words into actions, but to do this requires immediate
commitment from Margaret Beckett and the treasury. Achieving 10 per cent
modulation by 2004, which the treasury must match, is already possible. But we
need Mrs Beckett to engage with our European partners to broaden the things
this 'modulated', money can be spent on, to benefit the wider rural community
here in England and across the European Union.
'There's lots of potential here for farmers to make a profit out of what the
public want - a quality countryside and quality food. The benefits will flow
out to rural communities too. New funds released by modulation can make the
countryside a better place for visiting, or provide other public benefits such
as flood plain management or energy crops. Through our nine land management
initiatives, the Countryside Agency is already testing ways in which
agri-environment and rural development schemes could work. The lessons learned
from these pilots are demonstrating how this new approach can be applied.
Ewen Cameron continued: 'At his farming summit almost two years ago, the prime
minister charged the Countryside Agency to help consumers make the link between
the food they buy and the countryside they love, and to support farmers'
efforts to market their produce directly to customers. Our 'Eat the View'
initiative does just that. We feel Don Curry's enthusiasm for a more coherent
approach to establishing new markets for and publicising local produce is a
welcome step forward.
'Through Eat the View we have been working with the regional development
agencies, Food from Britain and other key regional players, including the
regional food groups. Now is the time for far greater regional co-operation.
'This report provides the impetus for fundamental changes in farming and should
set both our farmers and rural communities well on the road to recovery. The
future of the English countryside depends on swift action.'