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Farming futures

Agriculture is changing. The system of farm subsidies is undergoing reform, and in future more emphasis will be placed on farming sustainably than on maximising yields. A new ‘broad and shallow’ system of payments to farmers – the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme – is being piloted in four areas of England until 2005, at which time it is expected that the scheme will be rolled out nationally. This will reward many more farmers with an annual flat-rate payment for managing land in an environmentally friendly way for public benefit.

Farming organically is also gaining ground. With the incentive of government subsidies and increasing demand for organic food, organic farming is becoming a viable option for a larger percentage of the farming sector. The environmental benefits associated with organic production are well known.

A shift in financial support to farmers away from production subsidies and towards measures that enhance the environment is central to the Government’s strategy for sustainable farming and food. Farming practice on the Cholderton Estate demonstrates how this vision for farming can be realised.