Anna Beames, who became chief executive of Suffolk FWAG earlier this year, thinks its conservation-minded independent farm advice services could be crucial in helping the county’s farms make the grade under any new ‘public money for public goods’ system, as outlined by environment secretary Michael Gove before the launch of his Agriculture Bill, currently being scrutinised by parliament.
The FWAG network of advisers across the country are well placed to provide the kind of support the agricultural industry will need to shift their focus towards a system which looks set to subsidise farmers for the environmental work they do, rather than mainly for farming as they do under the current European Union (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) system, she says.
She is set to highlight the key role of independent advice to farmers at Suffolk FWAG’s annual awards presentation evening, which takes place in Ipswich on Monday (November 19).
Anna, who joined the organisation eight months ago, said it was in a “fantastic” and a “unique” position to deliver advice.
“They are a greatly undervalued organisation. They are independent and they are trusted and that goes a long way today. They have got a longstanding relationship with farming and the environment with no agenda.”
Guest speaker at the Suffolk FWAG event will be environmentalist Tony Juniper, a campaigner, writer, sustainability adviser who has worked as a special adviser to the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit.
He will be asking whether ecology and economics can go hand in hand, and address the value of natural capital for farmers. “We have not lost the argument of nature being beautiful, or important. We have lost, time and time again, the argument of the “choice” between economic growth and the protection of nature,” he said.