Intensive farming

Scientists from across Europe have concluded that the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy should be urgently reviewed to stop the intensification of farming practices that are leading to a catastrophic decline in wildlife.

The European Ornithologists Union, the European Mammal Foundation, the Societas Europaea Herpetologica, the Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica and Butterfly Conservation Europe, representing more than 2,500 experts, have written to the new president of the European Commission demanding urgent changes to the Common Agricultural Policy.

They write that the present European agricultural policy is turning rural areas into green deserts of uninhabitable maximum-yield monoculture and that there is an unequivocal scientific consensus that intensive farming methods have been responsible for the plummeting numbers of farmland birds and insects.

green deserts of uninhabitable maximum-yield monoculture
(Google Images)

Farmland bird numbers, throughout Europe, have fallen by more than 50% since 1980 and, in some places in mainland Europe, insect numbers have declined by 75%.

They write that: [t]he greening measures in the CAP are largely ineffective at retaining or restoring biodiversity and are too often poorly controlled. Instead, they want to see fundamental reforms that support smaller farms that use sustainable methods and maintain high biodiversity.

One-third of the UK’s bee population has disappeared over the past decade and 24% of Europe’s bumblebees are now threatened with extinction.
(Images taken in the park)

Harriet Bradley, the EU agriculture policy officer at BirdLife Europe, said:

“The scientific evidence speaks for itself – intensive farming is killing nature. If the CAP isn’t fundamentally reformed – if we don’t make space for nature – then Europe’s ‘Green Deal’ promises on biodiversity and climate will just be empty words on another piece of paper.”

farmland bird populations have fallen by more than 50%
(images taken in the park by DKG)

It is now almost three years on from our decision to leave the EU, the Common Agricultural Policy, and any of its future rewrites behind us. Our very own Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) says:

“Leaving the EU presents an opportunity to design a bespoke agricultural policy . . . [o]ur new environmental land management scheme is intended to be a powerful vehicle for driving this change and achieving the goals of the 25-year environment plan. We are now working closely with a range of environmental and agricultural stakeholders to collaboratively design this new scheme.”

In other words, the new post-Brexit agricultural policy has not been written yet. The Agriculture Bill 2017-19, which was intended to address some of the post Brexit issues, was incomplete at the prorogation of Parliament and therefore was discarded; nothing has been put forward to replace it.

If we are to rescue our wildlife and countryside from the intensive farming methods that we now know are so destructive, we must demand action, not words, from our next government.

Header picture: mono-cultured wheat by Suzanne Humphries

4 thoughts on “Intensive farming

  1. We must put our wildlife and countryside biodiversity before the farmers lust for maximum profit at any cost. Our future and our children’s futures depend on it!

    1. I agree. I took the headline picture of mono-cultured wheat just down the road, no more than a couple of miles away. It should be a local issue, something we talk to Wiltshire Council about; those were local field voles and invertebrates that died when those fields were sprayed with herbicides, planted with treated seeds and sprayed with systemic insecticides.

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