The return of set aside

The return of set-aside Cash for farmers to leave land uncultivated as wildlife habitat (set-aside) in on its way back into UK farm policy. Farmers themselves are to be asked to come up with innovative ways of delivering the environmental benefits of set-aside, says Defra Secretary Hilary Benn. One “innovation” could perhaps be a far greater switch to organic farming, says Richard Sanders of The Organic Research Centre, where care for the environment is integrated into the whole agricultural approach rather than being ghetto-ised into intensive production here and bolted-on conservation there. Speaking at the NFU Conference in Birmingham (Feb 16th), Mr Benn said he was prepared to consider a voluntary approach alongside a combined mandatory and incentive based option when making a final decision on an environment scheme to replace set-aside, which was abolished in the EU in 2008.

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