Appropriately enough it was The Animals whose refrain, ‘I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood‘ has been taken up by NFU President Peter Kendall.
Last week he said ‘Government should switch its focus from bio-diversity and concentrate on farm productivity‘ and ‘The point is we haven’t got a bio-diversity crisis in this country’ in a speech to the Agricultural Industries Confederation.
This week he said ‘There has been some deliberate misunderstanding of our position on this in recent days. When we say, as we do, that agricultural productivity must be stepped up, that does not mean that we want it stepped up at the expense of the environment.
“And when we say, as we have done, that there is no biodiversity crisis in this country, thanks to the progress which has been made with reducing fertiliser and pesticide use, improving water quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the success of Environmental Stewardship, it does not mean that biodiversity is not important to us, or that we are in any way complacent or that we are anything less than 100 per cent committed to the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.
“But the fact has to be faced that if, in 40 years’ time, biodiversity in Britain is no worse than it is now, that will be a fair achievement.‘.
The fact is that the NFU President got the mood wrong and went too far in public last week and was surprised by the backlash that he received. And this blog led the way on that.
The NFU is terribly weak on the environment and knows that it is on weak ground too. Its website contains little environmental information but does have a handy factsheet for farmers entitled, rather objectively, Positive Facts about Farming. It’s a pretty thin and highly selective document.
The NFU will push food production as hard as it can all the time and play down the problems with greenhouse gas emissions, water quality and biodiversity loss.
I see FWAG is appealing to the farming industry for funding to maintain its central capacity. I wonder what the ‘voice of farming’ has to say on that subject.
And yes, Peter, I’m sure you do ‘feel a little mad‘ sometimes, and you do ‘seem to be bad‘, and when it comes to biodiversity you do ‘seem edgy‘ but you haven’t persuaded me that you’ll be ‘long regretting some foolish thing, some little simple thing‘ you’ve done. Just sometimes remember The Animals (and plants).