A new ‘Rural Manifesto’ is launched today, which identifies a series of reforms to address inequalities in the countryside . The manifesto has been warmly welcomed by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who represents the largely rural constituency of the South West. Dr Scott Cato, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said:
“I am delighted to see the launch of this Rural Manifesto today. With its focus on sustainable, human-scale farming, affordable and low impact housing, decentralised and community-owned renewable energy and increased rural employment opportunities, it chimes with much of Green policy.
“The manifesto provides a challenge to the Tories who enjoy a clean sweep of seats in the rural South West. It offers a just and sustainable alternative for farming in our region. The emphasis on local and sustainable food systems is a welcome change from the endless pressure to compete in global export markets which have actually left our farmers more vulnerable.
“Following the Paris Agreement and in the wake of another winter of severe flooding we need to recognise the important role land management can play in addressing environmental crises. My role in the EU is to fight for the £3bn. of farming subsidy that British farmers receive to be more closely tied to environmental and social benefits, including flood-resistant farming and carbon capture.
“I am also pleased to see the emphasis in the report on the question of land access and land ownership. With the average age of farmers now standing at 58 we need to find ways to enable young people with a passion for the soil to gain access to land and to build careers based on sustainable rural livelihoods. This can work in combination with an upper limit on CAP payments to ensure support is directed towards family farms rather than taxpayers subsidising agribusinesses.”
 EQUALITY IN THE COUNTRYSIDE: a rural manifesto, by the Land Magazine, The Landworkers’ Alliance and The Family Farmers’ Association.