At 1pm today the RSPB is having a live debate with the very clever Prof Allan Buckwell from the CLA and the NFU's President Peter Kendall on whether UK farming is an environmental hero or villain.  For details - click here.

You can watch the debate online and even join in.  No doubt I'll be blogging about it tomorrow if not before.  That is - if I survive.

I wonder whether the NFU President will accept that farmland bird numbers are much lower than they were in the 1970s and 1980s?  I wonder whether he will accept that this is mainly due to the way that we farm the countryside? I wonder whether he will agree that it matters? I wonder whether he will praise the work that the RSPB has done at Hope Farm where productivity has increased and wildlife too?

Perhaps the NFU will welcome our Stepping up for Nature campaign.


  • Sorry out on the day job yesterday and missed the debate.  Sky Larks - yes, one bird population that has halved; yes, RSPB prescription has worked; yes farmers are using it; yes, it helps no other bird; yes, we should be worried about all the other species in decline - FBI or no - what about peewits?  I have no idea if NFU Pres is converted or not, BUT you are not helping him convert his members, but you could if you really wanted to do so.

  • If the argument is so overwhelming why not give ALL of the £125M the RSPB receives to farmers and cut out the middlemen - besides the RSPB has to blame someone other than itself for its own apparent failure to deliver.

  • Mark ---however well the RSPB has done I disagree with your general remark that farmland birds have decreased mainly because of the way we farm,it may be partly true but you are off again taking the debate away from the whole picture which is that almost without exception all birds are in decline mostly nothing to do with the way we farm,I personally think it a deliberate ploy on the RSPBs part.There are dozens of reasons of which the way we farm is only one,think farmers would like the RSPB to acknowledge that fact and may then take more notice of what the RSPB would like them to do.

  • Skylark Patches vs Tuberculosis? – the “don’t-know-don’t-cares” have it!  

    Mark - “Peter - the environment has already been damaged - we need to work together to make things better”

    Mark - “Allan - public benefit was what I wrote. Surely you agree?”

    Peter – “Until the RSPB stops acting like the 'CND' in respect of BOVINE TB in wildlife - it will never be taken seriously by farmers”

    You survived Mark!

    Shame about the cattle!

  • Glossy ibis - not a pub in sight really.  Skylark patches are not a bad example of how farmers get paid for doing good things (and actually probably make more than growing wheat on those plots - so it is real profit) which aren't very difficult to do.  If that type of thing doesn't happen easily then what will?  It was quite difficult to follow the debate as a panellist too - comments coming from all directions and unclear as to who should post next - but we tried our best.  The general thrust of CAP reform should be to use taxpayers' money to pay for public goods that the market doesn't provide.  And there are lots of those goods potentially provided by farming and that's why farming is special as an industry.