Thank you for contacting me about the possibility of using the UK’s future agricultural policy to support the development and maintenance of paths, and the ‘Your Path Awaits’ campaign by Ramblers. Of course, this is a hugely important issue for many people in the Calder Valley and I hope we are able to find a way to balance the legitimate interests of those who work in the countryside, the need to protect and enhance our rural environment and creating as many life-enhancing opportunities as possible for access to the countryside for all who want it.
Leaving the EU creates a once in a generation opportunity to design a domestic agricultural policy that will stand the test of time. Starting from first principles we can bring in innovative new ideas to support investment in healthy, sustainable British food production and do much better for farming, the environment and animal welfare.
The Government proposes to move to a system of paying farmers public money for public goods. The principal public good it anticipates the system promoting is environmental enhancement, but the consultation document Health & Harmony also proposed public access as a public good that could be funded.
Ministers have consulted widely with farmers and others and will publish a response shortly. I hope that you and Ramblers were able to participate in this exercise and make your views heard.
Outside the Common Agricultural Policy we will have an opportunity to use public money to reward environmentally responsible land use, as well as maintaining and enhancing high standards of animal welfare. I am convinced that we will make the very most of this opportunity and ensure that our best days as a food and farming nation lie ahead of us.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP