Monday, 11 October 2010

New CAPs for all

Pondering the CAP tends to have a distinctly soporific effect upon me, but when, as happened recently, I hear Brian Aldridge and Neil Carter debating it on the Archers, I know it really must be important. And it doesn't take much digging into this topic to bring home how much CAP reform could affect us all. It won't just make a difference economically, but it could also have fundamental effects on the ecology and landscapes of the whole of the UK. Obviously I have been mugging up from Relu's latest briefing paper, written for us by Alan Woods. As always, Alan has the policy issues at his fingertips and deftly draws in evidence from across the programme. These findings advocate reformed agri-environment schemes that promote an ecosystem services framework - which means getting more for your money from every acre, not just in terms of food but also other vital goods such as clean water, carbon storage and wildlife. There isn't going to be any more land available, so we have to get the best we can from what's already there. I can't say that CAP reform is going to be my favourite reading from now on (except possibly as an alternative to counting sheep) but I can't deny its importance, and I will be as interested as anybody in the outcome of the reform process.

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