Today the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP, spoke about the future of the countryside when we leave the European Union and his hopes for a “green Brexit”.

In his speech Mr Gove outlined his vision for the countryside and future ongoing support for farming. He recognised that “seventy per cent of our land is farmed” and our “beautiful landscape has not happened by accident” but is the result of active management. Mr Gove made clear farmers will only get payments for environmental goods and enhancing rural life.

The Countryside Alliance was particularly pleased that Mr Gove recognised the role farmers and land managers play in managing the countryside and the specific need to support upland farmers by protecting the “human ecology”. Upland farming is impossible without subsidy and it provides public benefits which could never be met by the market. This is something we have long been concerned about and recognising the role upland farmers play in managing and maintaining some of our most iconic rural landscapes is vital.

Sarah Lee, Head of Policy, Countryside Alliance says:

“It is encouraging that there seems to be an emerging consensus between farming organisations and the environmental lobby that we can farm productively and protect the environment. This coming together is important for the future of our countryside and its communities and to ensure we have a vibrant and competitive farming sector, alongside a rich biodiversity.”

“A new agricultural policy should target support payments to those farmers who are providing the most amount of public good but not being rewarded for this by the market. This means ensuring that support is provided directly to the people and the businesses on the ground. Coupled with fully recognising the needs of rural communities in terms of labour and trade.”