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Feb 3, 2012

Proposed EU Subsidy Rule Changes in 2014 Encourage UK Farmers to Plough Grasslands

South Downs grasslands
On 3 February 2012, EurActiv.com reported that proposed rule changes to EU subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy are resulting in pressure on UK farmers to plough up English pastures.  Any land that has not been ploughed or farmed by 2014 must be permanently registered as grassland.  Some farmers are ploughing to protect their future rights to grow on these lands.  This is occurring in biodiverse grassland clearings including the New Forest, the South Downs, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns.

UK Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman has been involved with the issue, meeting with EU members of parliament sitting on the environment, food and rural affairs select committee.  She has also brought up the issue with EU environment commissioner, Janez Potočnik, warning him of one of the "unintended consequences" of the rule changes.

According to Miles King, director of conservation for the Grassland Trust in the UK, some of the grasslands in question are "the result of more than 6,000 years of traditional farming practices and modern conservation. ...There's so little of it left: every single bit really matters now. It's like somebody bulldozing a medieval church to put in a housing estate: these are as much a part of our heritage as any church or work of art."

For more see: "EU rules encouraging UK farmers 'to plough up grasslands'," EurActiv.com, 3 February 2012.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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