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CLA demands “joined up” soil policy from Defra

[Monday 28 September 2009]

The government’s new soil policy, which lays down strict new rules about the amount of fertiliser farmers can use on their land, fails to make the necessary link between environmental improvements and the need to secure Britain’s future food supply, says the Country Land and Business Association.

Run-off from farms is a major pollutant of our rivers, which Defra and EU officials have been trying to tackle for some years. But a world food shortage which developed two years ago has suddenly made “food security” a major issue, exacerbated by any future problems with climate change.

Defra secretary Hilary Benn launched the new Save our Soils strategy last Friday but it has run into immediate criticism from farmers and landowners because it appears to conflict with demands for more British food production.

Says CLA Deputy President and Yorkshire Landowner William Worsley: “This strategy tries to span the many policy areas that have an impact on soils but it still does not recognise that agriculture production and the environment must improve together.”

He called for more investment into research to discover how extra food production could be combined with the use of fewer fertilisers: ““Farmers and land managers need to produce more food in stable conditions, employing the best knowledge available for achieving efficient use of resources, especially water and fertilisers.”

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