Farmers give commitment on the environment
British farmers have publicly acknowledged the role they have as stewards of the countryside and released a comprehensive statement of intent outlining their commitment to a sustainable environment.The National Farmers Union (NFU) has issued its own environment policy, which it expects members to adhere to, calling for a balance between legislation and self regulation and arguing that profitable agriculture is the foundation for an attractive and responsibly-managed countryside.
But it also calls for less interference from Government and the union hopes to convince critics and supporters alike that farmers were up to the task of looking after the land.
Chris Carrington, a spokesman for the NFU, told edie: "If you look at the Government's track record its preference is to allow people to regulate themselves rather than bringing in more and more legislation, so why not farmers?
"The hard facts at the end of the day are that farmers manage 77% of the land and if they don't do it, who will?"
The NFU's new policy details commitments to lead a profitable, modern, competitive and environmentally sensitive farming sector, as well as form a constructive partnership with the Government and NGOs.
"One of the key things we are pushing with this is the need to work together," he said.
"You can achieve a lot more in partnership with others, instead of people shouting at each other across a field."
Mr Carrington accepted farming was a traditional target for many NGOs and often came under fire for alleged pollution and destruction of habitats, harming wildlife and the wider environment.
He agreed there would always be a few bad apples in farming, as with any other industry, but said there was a genuine commitment from most farmers to look after the environment as well as their livelihoods.
When it came, he pointed out, it was in farmers' own interests to keep the countryside healthy.
"Without sustainable land management there is no future," he said.
"Farmers realise they are here to keep their land in an environmental manner.
"Most farmers get into it through their families and are in it for the long haul.
"What's the point in destroying the land for a quick profit when the hope and expectation is that the next generation will carry on the family business?"
The full NFU policy can be seen on the unions website.
By Sam Bond