Over the past six months I have written a lot about maize and it possible role in flooding incidents around Exton and Woodbury in East Devon – see here for all my recent blogs. In one of those blogs I said I written to my MP Hugo Swire to raise my concerns over the matter and I said I would report back when he replied. Not one reply but three including one from Li Truss, the Secretary of State for the Environment! Thank you Mr Swire. Here they are.
There is clearly a great sense of concern within DEFRA and the Environment Agency concerning maize around pollution issues and localised flooding. Again it clearly shows that land use practices have a big effect on flooding in East Devon. This all must be costing the EA and DEFRA a fortune! I wonder how many farmers in the local area have had their Basic Farm Payments cut as a result of cross compliance breaches? I also wonder whether the ‘significant efforts’ put in by the EA will actually improve things. The problem is that on soils which are vulnerable to soil erosion the growing of maize is completely incompatible and no end of initiatives and effort will change that. DEFRA could make the EA’s life much more easy by providing much tougher / clearer guidelines about where maize should and should not be grown and then beefing up their cross compliance rules so that there was a real deterrent to farmers growing maize in inappropriate places.
Interesting the Commons Environmental Audit Committee are currently carrying out an inquiry into Soil Health and on Wednesday 9 March 2016 they took oral evidence from Lord Krebs, Chair of the Adaptation Sub-Committee, Committee on Climate Change, David Thompson, Senior Policy Analyst supporting the Adaptation Sub- Committee, Committee on Climate Change, Peter Melchett, Policy Director, Soil Association and Professor David Powlson, Rothamsted Research. You can download a full transcript of that session here. Maize featured during that inquiry – see Q43, 44, 45, 55, 77, 78 and 87.
Surely something is going to change soon? Otherwise it is just all talk.