These are changing, and some might say, exciting times at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Whilst not usually a high profile Ministry, the issue of BREXIT and the appointment of Michael Gove have certainly changed that of late. Love him or hate him or somewhere between, Mr Gove is a man of action and has already put his handprint on future direction.
The 25 year plan for the environment and farming had been slumbering in DEFRA for a long time and some were feeling that it was destined to stay in that basket named too difficult. However Mr Gove saw it as a very important document to set out future plans and with some re-drafting by staff and him directly, it was issued with some ceremony by the Prime Minister in January. The headlines and immediate questions were focussed on the reduction of plastics but the comprehensive document (yes, it is a long read) contained much more than that.
Our Green Future
The plan, named Our Green Future, includes a pledge “to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. The plan details how Government will work with communities and businesses to do this”. Whilst the importance of agriculture, increasing productivity and home supply, is fully supported, it does clearly state that support measures must and will change. It emphasises the need for an integrated approach to land management, not keeping support in protected silos. It also emphasises that farm support should be aimed in such an integrated way, not based on acreage of land farmed but on need.
Aside from support for food production, some key elements of the direction of travel include: