Check out Martin Harper's blog today to read our thoughts on the NFU's Fair Deal for Farmers.
I want to know what you think.
I need to know what you think.
"What about?", you may ask.
Its one of my favourite subjects - the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award. This year I want it to be BIGGER and BETTER than ever. So when voting opens in the hopefully sunny summer days of July, even more people will read about the four fabulous finalists, ponder thoughtfully about the wildlife they support, the jobs they create, and the food they produce, before plumping for the one they want to be crowned champ of 2013. And then tell their friends and family all about it. So even more people stop and think about the farmers that grow our food, and nurture our natural heritage.
That's my plan!
So what I want to know is why do you vote - and what stops you voting?
Take our quick survey here. It is completely anonymous, and will only take a few minutes. Your views will help me encourage more people to show their support for wildlife-friendly farmers this year.
And don't forget, entry is open for the 2013 Award - download an entry form here today.
Highland cow image courtesy of stock xchange
By Bruce Fowkes, Corporate Partnerships Farm Adviser
It is now a year since the RSPB joined forces with Tesco in the Together for Trees project, which has been raising funds to help save threatened rainforests around the world. As a spin off from this, we have also been working a bit closer to home, with a group of dairy farmers who are producing milk for the supermarket.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2012, a team of RSPB volunteers battled the rather inclement weather to survey the Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group’s committee member farms. Despite the deluges, cold and wind, results were encouraging with numbers of skylark, grey partridge, lapwing and tree sparrow recorded on several of the sites.
Armed with this information, over the past few months, I have been out to visit each farmer individually to discuss their results and look at the areas on the farm that are providing important wildlife habitats. Ranging from the south cost of England, to the north east of Scotland, this has been extremely varied, encompassing major rivers to ancient woodland, and species rich grassland to arable fields. After the visit, each of the farmers received a report highlighting the priority species on their farm, whereabouts on the holding they can be found, and what management practices will benefit them.
As well as discussing the wildlife on their farms, the visits also provided an opportunity to ask the farmer’s views on the different types of habitat management for wildlife. Lots of research has looked at management practices that can benefit all kinds of priority species, but which ones would work better on their dairy farms?
Using this feedback gained from the site visits, I have been drafting a package of environmental management for dairy farmers. This starts with a baseline that is open to all, followed by an entry and higher level that develops the amount of management undertaken. By adopting this stepping stone approach, it is hoped that it offers something to all farmers, from those just starting out on their environmental management, to those who have been farming with wildlife in mind for a while. We are speaking with Tesco and their farmers, to ensure that what is developed is useable, practical, and delivers for all. If this goes well, there might be a dairy farm near you who has adopted the Dairy Package and is making a better home for wildlife on their farm.