Farmers 'should put food before wildlife'
Farmers have condemned moves to force them to leave fields uncultivated, warning that as much land as possible should be used to grow more crops and create jobs.
They also argued that plans to pay them to leave land fallow for wildlife could backfire and damage efforts to protect the environment.
Proposals have been floated by the Government to reintroduce a "set-aside" scheme similar to one abandoned two years ago.
Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, told the National Farmers' Union conference yesterday that action needed to be taken to tackle the fall in numbers of farmland birds.
But Peter Kendall, the NFU president, said the priority should be to boost food production. He said agriculture is one industry with reasonable prospects this year and should be at the heart of the economy.
Mr Kendall told the conference: "We are in a new era where we must produce more and at the same time impact on the environment less."
He warned that if his members were forced, under the rules for getting their subsidies, to introduce set-aside measures, many would be put off environment schemes which benefited the countryside through a range of measures such as planting hedges.
"Our proposed voluntary action plan is ambitious and we are determined it will achieve far more than any blunt regulatory stick," he said.
But the RSPB welcomed the government scheme, saying about 5 per cent of land would be needed for key projects, such as providing unsown plots in fields to help skylarks nest.
Woodpecker and weasel: This is what the photographer has to say about the incredible picture
Act now or rising seas will sink our country, Marshall Islanders tell the world
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind
Pangolins: What are they, why are they so endangered and what can we do to help?
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...