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Campaign for the Farmed Environment

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 7 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Country Landowners Association and the National Farmers Union on (a) the Campaign for the Farmed Environment sponsored by these bodies and (b) progress towards the targets set by that campaign for (i) England, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) Cumbria. (308541)

I have met with the leaders of both organisations a number of times over recent months to discuss how best to recapture the environmental benefits of set-aside through the development of the Campaign for the Farmed Environment, as have my ministerial colleagues and our officials. The Memorandum of Understanding which has been signed by all the campaign partners, including DEFRA, CLA and NFU, and the nearly £3 million of funding which the Department has earmarked for the campaign, demonstrates the commitment of all the partners to its success.

The campaign's targets are for England and are not county-specific. It is currently too early to assess the impact of the campaign on the ground, following its official launch on 5 November 2009, but I have just received an interim report from the campaign's industry partners reporting on progress to date with setting up the campaign. DEFRA has also recently sent out a baseline sample survey of farmers' existing voluntary actions, against which future annual surveys will establish the progress of the campaign. Our intention is that the results of the first of these surveys will be published in summer 2010.