Support for Agro-forestry urgently required!

agro-forest

Growing crops and trees together can increase total yield by a factor of 1.4 according to research undertaken at the Wakelyns research farm.

Despite support from Europe and increasing evidence of the benefits of agroforestry Defra seems set against it. I would urge you to read the following from Stephen Briggs and write to your MP.  The more responses they get from farmers/growers that are practicing/ considering agroforestry the better, to counter the view that there is ‘no demand’ for an agroforestry option in England.

 

Dear Colleague

I am writing to ask for your support in lobbying your MP, or contacts you have in Defra, Natural England or the Forestry Commission to overturn a decision NOT TO ADOPT agroforestry measures in England which have been made available by the EU under article 23 of Pillar II of the CAP (2014-20) and to ensure that agroforestry is an option under the Eclological focus area Greening Measures in Pillar I.

Here is some text you might like to use in a letter to your MP

XXXXXXXXX Esq, MP                                                       Your Name & Address
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

DATE

Dear Mr XXXXX

We are XXXXXX of XXXXXX and have a strong interest in sustainable land management which is capable of delivering food, fuel and public goods.

I am writing to you to you to draw your attention to a crisis regarding the implementation of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Pillar I & II measures in England and the adoption of Agroforestry measures and options.

Agroforestry is  the practice of growing trees and crops and/or livestock on the same agricultural area for greater productivity.  The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development  has described Agroforestry as a “win–win” multifunctional land-use approach that balances the production of commodities with non-commodity outputs such as environmental protection, biodiversity opportunities, cultural and landscape amenities.

Agroforestry is one of the few options with the potential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help protect natural resources whilst at the same time producing more food and biomass and one which is less reliant on greater use of oil based inputs to achieve greater productivity. Governments, farmers, landowners and the public alike need farming systems that are productive, protect natural resources and the environment, encourage greater biodiversity and are visually and socially acceptable.  The greater cropping diversity associated with agroforestry can also lead to greater local employment opportunities.

Agroforestry is increasing recognised as a practice which can meet the targets set for European agriculture. The EU has recently funded two major projects focused on agroforestry “AGFORWARD” (2014-2018) a new 20 partner European FP7 research and implementation project  and  “AGROFE” (2013-2015) a new European Leonardo framework project on improving education and training on Agroforestry.

The new CAP (2014-20) has recognized agroforestry in Pillar I as a valid ‘Ecological Focus Area’ option under the greening measures and there is provision under Pillar II article 23 to support the establishment and maintenance of agroforestry, via implemntation through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) in England.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are pursuing options to integrate agroforestry into regional policy and provide agroforestry options for farmers and landowners through either agricultural or forestry schemes.

The Government and Defra are proposing not to adopt these options in England, denying English farmers a valid and climate smart farming option which has recognition throughout the  EU and at the wider global scale.

There is an immediate danger that the merits of Agroforestry are not being understood by Government, DEFRA, Natural England and the Forestry Commission and that in an attempt to simplify policy delivery, agroforestry options in England will be ignored. This would be disastrous.

We urge you to lend your support to our efforts to persuade Owen Patterson and Lord de Mauley to implement the following ;

  • The adoption of CAP Pillar II Article 23 measures, making  agroforestry options available to English farmers.
  • The adoption of Agroforestry as an Ecological Focus Area (EFA) option in CAP pillar

This issue is of vital importance to me, my business and my rural community and I would very much appreciate an opportunity to discuss the predicament we face in a little more detail at some point in the near future.

Yours Sincerely

XXXXXXXX