Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy by the European Union has put resource efficiency as one of its six priorities.
And the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has outlined how UK farmers can benefit from generous grants for being resource efficient.
Defra has listed five points towards meeting the priority of ‘promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift towards a low carbon and climate resilient economy in agriculture, food and forestry sectors’. These are:
- Increasing efficiency in water use by agriculture
- Increasing efficiency in energy use in agriculture and food processing
- Facilitating the supply and use of renewable sources of energy, of by-products, wastes, residues and other food raw material for purposes of the bio-economy
- Reducing greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from agriculture
- Fostering carbon conservation and sequestration in agriculture and forestry.
The other priorities are fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, enhancing farm viability and competitiveness, promoting food chain organisation, enhancing eco-systems and promoting economic development in rural areas.
In order to meet these priorities, EU member states can choose from a menu of measures, but they must spend at least 30 per cent of their funding on measures to protect and enhance the environment and at least 5 per cent through a local delivery mechanism known as LEADER.
Defra plans to meet the resource efficiency target by using measures including:
- Improving the efficiency and effective operation of supply chains
- Driving a shift to a lower carbon economy through supporting improvements in energy efficiency in food production and initiatives for sustainable wood fuel and anaerobic digestion
In England, 15 per cent of the budget current used for payments made directly to farmers will be transferred to improve the environment and projects to improve farm competitiveness and boost economic growth.
Farming Minister George Eustice said: “The UK ensured that we have choices in how we implement the Common Agricultural Policy, rather than having to work with a one-size-fits-all approach from the European Commission.
“This gives us the flexibility to target funding in ways that will deliver real benefits to the environment, boost the competitiveness of our farming industry and grow the rural economy.”