City A.M. Debate: Should we subsidise farmers for providing ‘public goods’, like protecting the environment?

Should we subsidise farmers for providing ‘public goods’, like protecting the environment?

Warwick Lightfoot, director of economics at Policy Exchange and lead author of Farming Tomorrow, says YES.
Brexit presents a big opportunity to improve the way we support farming and put the consumer at the heart of food policy. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy has, at great expense, reduced agricultural productivity by lessening competition and supporting inefficient farmers.

That’s why it was so exciting to hear Michael Gove say that he wants to redirect future farm subsidies towards protection for natural and public goods, and increasing R&D to boost innovation and the sector’s long-term productivity.

Agriculture dominates land use in the UK, yet causes many unsustainable environmental outcomes. We need a new policy which provides an incentive for more sustainable practices, and increases the ecosystem services provided through land management to ensure we leave the environment in a better state than we found it.

If we reward farmers for public goods like flood prevention, planting trees to reduce carbon emissions, or biodiversity, we will all benefit.

To read the debate in full, click here.

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