HC Deb 04 December 1997 vol 302 c353W
22. Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures he has taken to encourage environmentally friendly farming. [17686]

Mr. Morley

The Government are working with conservation and farming organisations to improve the efficiency and targeting of agri-environment schemes. Existing schemes are regularly reviewed and, where appropriate, we are also developing new initiatives. The pilot Arable Stewardship scheme, which will be introduced next year, is aimed at restoring the wildlife interest of arable farmland areas and includes measures for reversing the loss of plant and animal species which are largely dependent on arable crops. We have also established, through the National Agri-Environment Forum, a working group to address the environmental issues associated with the uplands.

In addition, the Organic Conversion Information Service helps farmers decide whether organic farming would be appropriate for them, as well as providing more detailed advice for those considering conversion. We are reviewing the rates and structure of aid, under the Organic Aid Scheme, for those considering conversion to organic farming. We are also considering, in consultation with farming and conservation organisations, the practicality of drawing up a Code of Good Agricultural Practice for Wildlife and Landscape.

For the future, the Government see a continuing and increasing role for environmental incentive schemes as part of a reformed CAP.