Farmers reacted with fury today to Boris Johnson‘s plans to rewild swathes of the UK’s arable and pasture land claiming swapping fields of cows, sheep and pigs for trees and bogs will put British food production at risk. 

Today the Government’s £2.4billion-per-year plan to replace the European Union’s common agricultural policy will be launched by Environment Secretary George Eustice at the Oxford Farming Conference this morning.

And at its heart landowners will be paid to plant trees and restore wetlands and peat on 741,000 acres of land under the largest farming reforms in 50 years. The taxpayer will fund up to 15 large nature reserve projects of up to 12,000 acres each across the UK and thousands of smaller projects.

It came days after Ed Sheeran announced his own plans to purchase farmland to plant ‘as many trees as possible’ to offset his considerable carbon footprint after years of worldwide tours and jet-setting. 

Farmers have said that Boris Johnson has become obsessed with rewilding – branding it ‘mumbo-jumbo c**p’ – and putting it above food security, which has been harmed by Brexit and the Covid pandemic. 

Jono Dixon, a farmer in North Yorkshire, said: ‘I’m sick to death of all this tree planting re wilding bloody mumbo-jumbo c**p. Let us farm let us produce but for goodness sake leave us alone to do what we do best’.

He told MailOnline: ‘Planting trees on a mass scale on good productive farm land producing cereals vegetables and other edible crops is quite simply ridiculous and in my view shouldn’t happen. 

‘Custodians of the countryside are farmers we know how to manage land we monitor wildlife and we generally look after whats precious and that’s our daily surroundings. We seem to be surrounded by a bunch of complete utter f***wits who think they know everything but actually no nowt at all’. 

Boris’ ‘obsession’ with rewilding has been blamed by some farmers on the Prime Minister’s father Stanley, his wife Carrie Johnson and their environmentalist ‘chums’ Zac and Ben Goldsmith, who are advising the Government. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insists that projects will not go ahead if food production is risked. 

Jono Dixon said the people around Mr Johnson are ‘dangerous’, adding that Ed Sheeran and other millionaire non-farmers buying up land for conservation are getting into something they ‘know nothing about’. 

Farmers and landowners will be paid to protect nature by planting trees and restoring wetlands and peat under the largest farming reforms in 50 years (stock image)

Farmers are angry about the move towards rewilding, branding it ‘mumbo jumbo c**p’ 

There are also concerns that the policy will reward rich landowners who have large amounts of land and can bring in millions in taxpayer-funded grants to plant trees, predicting ‘financial catastrophe for farming’ because of the ‘joke environmental idea’. 

Chair of the NFU Cymru Milk Board, Abi Reader, said this week: ‘At some point growing food alongside nature became a dirty word’, adding sarcastically: ‘It’s ok because when we can’t grow enough to eat here we can import food from other places round the world & reassure ourselves we have the upper hand on nature’.  

She believes that ‘selling rewilding as the answer to all our problems’ is wrong, because it takes farmers ‘off the land’ at a time when ‘self sufficiency is falling’ and rural communities are ‘fragile’.  

While British beef farmer Joanne Pile predicted: ‘We’re walking head first in to a very dangerous future of food security for this country’.   

The NFU also has concerns, with vice president Tom Bradshaw declaring: ‘At a time when public support for British food and farming is at a high, our biggest concern is that these schemes result in reduced food production in the UK, leading to the need to import more food from countries with production standards that would be illegal for our farmers here.

‘This simply off-shores our production and any environmental impacts that go with it and would be morally reprehensible.’   

Under the plans some 15 nature reserves will be created, which will aim to recover threatened native species such as the curlew, sand lizard and water vole, restoring rivers, lakes, ponds and streams.

Other threatened species expected to benefit from the plans include the Marsh fritillary butterfly, the shrill carder bee and wild asparagus. The plans will take effect this year, starting out with restoring 24,700 acres of habitat.

The Government claims it will help cut greenhouse gases in the UK by the equivalent of taking between 12,000 to 25,000 petrol or diesel cars off the road, a reduction of 25-50 kilotonnes of carbon. Despite the proposals’ large scale, some 22.2million acres of farmland will remain, so officials do not expect food output will be affected. 

The common agricultural policy, which subsidised farmers according to how much land they owned, had been criticised for providing incentives to destroy habitats.

One scheme in the new plans, Local Nature Recovery, rewards farmers for ‘making space for nature’ in farms and countryside. This could include planting trees, restoring peat bogs and turning fields into wetland areas.

More radical changes will take place in a second scheme, Landscape Recovery. This will include establishing new nature reserves, restoring floodplains or creating forests and wetlands.

The two new schemes follow on from the previously announced Sustainable Farming Incentive, which provided support for practices such as reducing pesticide use, improving soil quality and rewarding farmers for preventing local river pollution.

The schemes aim to bring up to 60 per cent of England’s agricultural soil under sustainable management by 2030. The reforms will be the biggest changes to farming and land management in 50 years with more than 3,000 farmers already testing the schemes. 

At the Oxford Farming Conference today, Defra Secretary George Eustice is to announce applications will shortly open for the first wave of Landscape Recovery projects. He said: ‘We want to see profitable farming businesses producing nutritious food, underpinning a growing rural economy, where nature is recovering and people have better access to it.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has unveiled the £2.4billion-per-year plan to replace the European Union’s common agricultural policy. Pictured: A curlew, which is one of the animals that will hopefully be aided by the policy

One scheme in the new plans, Local Nature Recovery, rewards farmers for ‘making space for nature’ in farms and countryside. Pictured: A water vole

Some 15 nature reserves will be created, which will aim to recover threatened native species such as the curlew, sand lizard (pictured) and water vole, restoring rivers, lakes, ponds and streams

‘We are building these schemes together, and we are already working with over 3,000 farmers across the sector to test and trial our future approach.’ An early version of the Local Nature Recovery scheme will be on trial in 2023 with a nation-wide rollout from 2024.

Tony Juniper, chairman of government advisers Natural England, said: ‘More than two thirds of England is farmed and these reforms pave the way for those who manage the land to produce healthy food alongside other vital benefits, such as carbon storage, clean water, reduced flood risk, thriving wildlife and beautiful landscapes for everyone to enjoy.’

Dr Alexander Lees, senior lecturer in conservation biology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: ‘Escaping from the clutches of the common agricultural policy, which has driven biodiversity loss across Europe by incentivising habitat destruction, represents a major opportunity to improve the state of UK nature.’

If the UK is serious in reversing declines in its diminishing species ‘we need to be racing towards the 300,000 hectare [741,000-acre] target as fast as possible,’ he added.

All the new schemes will be voluntary and it will be for farmers to decide what combination of actions is right for them.

UK gives Leo charity £28k to protect the dwarf buffalo

By Helena Horton for the Daily Mail 

Leonardo DiCaprio’s green campaign group has been given £28,800 of taxpayers’ cash to lobby for ‘rewilding’.

The charity backed by the Oscar-winning actor, who is worth an estimated £200million, received the grant to protect a species of dwarf buffalo called the Tamaraw in the Philippines by conserving land from development, allowing it to remain wild.

The sum appeared in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ accounts as ‘official development assistance’.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s green campaign group has been given £28,800 of taxpayers’ cash to lobby in order to protect a species of dwarf buffalo called the Tamaraw in the Philippines by conserving land from development

DiCaprio, 47, launched the conservation project Re:wild last year and has already attracted large donations. According to its website the actor ‘has provided more than $100million (£75 million) in grants to a variety of programmes and projects’, with Re:wild described as ‘the latest undertaking linked to DiCaprio’s environmental activism’.

The star’s most recent film, Don’t Look Up, sees a deadly comet heading towards Earth in what many have interpreted as a metaphor for climate change. He said of his role: ‘I just felt like this was an incredible gift to be a part of a movie that encapsulated exactly what we’re going through.’

The actor recently came under fire for jetting from New York to Miami and back in one day soon after speaking at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

A Defra spokesman said the projects it supports ‘focus on local action… to address unsustainable use, habitat degradation and loss, whilst delivering poverty reduction’.

DiCaprio, 47, launched the conservation project Re:wild last year and has already attracted large donations

www.dailymail.co.uk

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