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Biodiversity and agricultural policy in Europe

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If sustainability and the global environment are your major concerns in life, kickstarting your UK career in the agricultural sector means you could start to make a difference. There are lots of different careers right across the agricultural, horticultural, and animal/livestock care sectors, and loads of rural industries crying out for motivated, qualified trainees and graduates. You'll find a variety of in-depth blog posts about jobs and careers (https://www.agrirs.co.uk/blog) on the Agricultural Recruitment Specialists website.

One of the major issues being addressed throughout Europe and the UK is biodiversity and how this is impacted by agricultural policies, and this is discussed in more detail below.

Ways the EU agricultural policies fail to meet biodiversity requirements

At the end of March 2020, the European Commission published a report looking at the failings in the bloc's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with regard to biodiversity and environmental/wildlife enhancements and protections. A critical example of this is the fact that 10% of the bee and butterfly species in Europe are endangered, and one-third of all species are in decline. This has a knock-on effect on pollination, as about €15bn of Europe's total agricultural products rely on pollinators (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20191129STO67758/what-s-behind-the-decline-in-bees-and-other-pollinators-infographic).

The 27 March report from the European Commission (https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/opinion/agriculture-and-biodiversity-a-make-or-break-for-european-green-deal/) analysed the impact of CAP on biodiversity and is a depressing read for anyone concerned about the protection of nature. Very little has been achieved in supporting High Nature Value Farming, which is the more traditional approach to agriculture that gives high levels of support to biodiversity and wildlife. What's more, there has been very little control over the impacts widespread industrial-scale farming has on the natural environment.

It almost seems that the EU is just paying lip service to agri-environmental issues, even though a variety of schemes have been in place to promote biodiversity over the past 30 years.

The report is titled: "Evaluation of the impact of the CAP on habitats, landscapes and biodiversity", and is available online for any interested readers (https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/1950-Evaluation-of-the-impact-of-the-CAP-on-habitats-landscapes-and-biodiversity).

Will there be any changes in the CAP in 2020?

Despite this thorough impact report, it seems quite likely that the EU's agricultural policies for 2020 and beyond will be more of the same. Although organic farming is identified to be one of the best ways to improve biodiversity in areas that are currently farmed intensively, there may be less available funding for organic farm support.

It's highlighted that EU member states are doing very little to put effective measures in place for biodiversity in the countryside, and again future funding doesn't seem to provide any guarantees to landowners and managers.

Although there are some biodiversity and environmental successes in Europe, the overall picture does seem depressing and offers very little comfort to individuals looking towards the EU to legislate for a move towards greater biodiversity in European agriculture. Debates surround CAP for 2020 and beyond are ongoing, and they will need to meet strategies for Biodiversity and Farm to Fork production, so in this respect, it is still possible for concerned individuals to make a difference. The EU Green Deal is another initiative being strongly promoted at present, however, it's vital that the CAP is aligned with all strategies for the best possible outcomes.

What about agricultural policy in the UK?

Here in the UK, the CAP is still active until the Brexit transition is finalised in December 2020. The UK government is in the process of considering the Agriculture Bill 2019-20, which covers a variety of expenditures on agriculture including the direct payments currently made the CAP. The Agriculture Bill is closely linked to the government's strategies for land management and environmental protections, as well as food production. The overarching goal of the strategy is to ensure that landowners, farmers, growers, and forestry owners are key to protecting the environment, in addition to producing essential food and livestock.

Soil erosion and the impacts of severe flooding in recent years have made a visible impact on the urban environment in the UK, as well as the rural environment. The government is also committed to ensuring that responsible agricultural practices increase pollinators, such as bees and other insects.

Just some of the agricultural developments to be introduced include:

- Grants for the sort of high tech equipment that reduces carbon emissions and improves environmental sustainability, while also protecting local environments

- Improvements to the farming supply chain to ensure fair prices are achieved for all produce

- Enhanced research and development opportunities for farm businesses

The Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM) will ensure farmers and growers are paid to manage their land in the most sustainable manner. The government recognise that 69% of England alone is farmland, and it's a vital resource for leisure, as well as food production.

All the above and more are highlighted in the Farming for the Future document currently under discussion by government, farming organisations, and other interested bodies. You can read the document online (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/868041/future-farming-policy-update1.pdf) and make your own comments, if you wish.

Unusual impact of the COVID-19 lockdown witnessed in March 2020

It is expected that the cut in CO2 emissions and airborne pollutants due to the global shutdowns will have an impact (https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment) on the environment. However, given human nature and the demands of the manufacturing sector, it's likely that there will be a growth in air travel and manufacturing following the relaxation of the lockdowns. If this is an issue that worries you, don't just consider activism, take a look at all the different types of jobs within the horticultural sector so you can start making your own contribution to feeding and greening the world.

Why not kickstart your UK farming or growing career today? Find out more on our website.

If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.

Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk