Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Farmers are responsible for our unique landscapes. Farmers are responsible for our unique landscapes. Photo: © David Hughes/

CPRE view

The beauty and tranquillity of the English countryside is a result of the complex evolution of human and natural interactions that have taken place over centuries. The countryside and communities across rural England depend on the success of farming. Farming can and must play a key role in creating a living, diverse and beautiful countryside with prosperous healthy communities. Despite the challenges, Brexit gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to rewrite farming policy to maintain and enhance the function and beauty of the countryside.

CPRE and farming

CPRE recognises the supreme value of UK farming, covering over 70% of national land area and producing over half of the essential food for this country, supporting rural economies, but also providing environmental and social benefits including:

  • A beautiful, patchwork landscape to inspire us and support recreation and escape
  • Storing and filtering water to reduce the risk of flooding and replenish supplies of groundwater
  • Locking up ten billion tonnes of carbon in the soil, equivalent to 50 years of UK carbon emissions
  • Supporting our wildlife 

During the past 50 years many of these benefits have been compromised by more intensive and industrialised farming. Key wildlife habitats have been lost, including more than 185,000 miles of hedgerows and 97% of wildlife-rich lowland meadows. Species decline, soil degradation and water pollution continue at unacceptable levels alongside newer threats such as:

  • The rise of megafarms, with dairy cows outdoors on pasture replaced by vast sheds designed to house cattle indoors permanently
  • Damage to soils and watercourses from cultivation of maize to feed anaerobic digesters
  • Massive loss of farms with average farm size getting bigger and bigger 
  • High quality farmland damaged by flooding, or built on and lost forever

All this changes the character of the landscape, impacts natural habitats and reduces resilience to the pressures of a changing climate. For more than 50 years we have campaigned to influence the policies and programmes which, through food and farming, affect how the countryside is managed and may alter its character, landscapes, natural habitats, natural resources and economy.

CPRE has two main asks for future agricultural policy to provide benefits to our unique landscapes, rural economies and food quality:

  1. Measures should be introduced which enhance landscapes; to increase high quality landscapes all can access and enjoy.
  2. Government should help develop a dynamic, innovative sector, accessible to new entrants, by developing measures, which reverse the loss of farms, particularly small ones.


Bedforshire shutterstock farm

Uncertain Harvest: does the loss of small farms matter?

The latest paper in CPRE's Farming Foresight paper looks at the data on farm numbers and sizes and raises questions about the loss of farms and their diversity. 


Farming cows WEB

New model farming: resilience through diversity

The first paper in CPRE's new Food and Farming Foresight series suggests that, following the EU referendum decision, there is an opportunity for major policy change to develop a new vision and policies that will establish a sound future for farming. 

Be inspired:

farming sunset WEB

The future of agricultural policy is in our hands

Presented with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to decide how to shape farming policy and influence the nature of the English landscape over the coming decades, we reflect on the future of agricultural policy in the wake of our recent roundtable event.


tractor 223x149px

Soil: not a four letter word

The word soil has many connotations. Unfortunately, quite a few are bad. It might be one reason why we consistently fail to appreciate how precious and extraordinary soil is. As a consequence, we give poor protection to this fundamental natural asset.


The issues:

East Yorkshire Wolds farming copyright emjay smith Shutterstock 223x149px

The future of farming and the countryside

Farming is shaped by policies, markets and technological change. It has been for centuries. Farming now faces multiple challenges to meet the rising demand for food while restoring lost and damaged nature.


Cheshire double rainbow copyright Stanth Shutterstock 223x149px

Our campaign successes

For more than 50 years CPRE has campaigned to prevent damage to the countryside from the intensive and industrialised farming that threatens to alter its character and features irrevocably.

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Hay field harvest

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