The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Planning and Environmental Impact Design: from EIA to EID
Chapter: Chapter 7 Agriculture, farming and countryside policy

Agricultural public goods

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If public money is spent on agriculture, it should be to obtain specified public goods. In developed economies, countryside policy needs to be reviewed. Too much money has been wasted on 'agricultural support' with public disbenefits, including: mass-produced 'industrial' food of low quality the destruction of wildlife habitats loss of scenic quality loss of tree cover canalization of rivers Rural planning and policies should revised to produce a range of public goods through EID: a strategic reserve, for food production greenways high-quality 'hand made food' and 'wild food' the creation of new wildlife habitats recreational opportunities the enhancement of scenery additional tree cover the reclamation of rivers the conservation of farm walls, buildings and other historic features These objectives can be achieved with a variety of measures, but only when the land has been mapped and evaluated. A series of overlapping policy plans can then be prepared. Private 'ownership' of land is a limited right. We may 'own' a farm. In time of war, we may be asked to die for our country. Belloc wrote that 'They died to save their country and they only saved the world'. Nothing belongs to us for long. I have use of some air for some time. Water stays with me a little longer. My use of the earth's surface may be for three score years and ten. But all are borrowed and shared. Some land, and some easements, can be owned by the public. 'Public' ownership should be diversified. Rights can belong to local and national government, local and national trusts, churches and monasteries, charities, groups of local residents, groups with special recreational interests. It is a bad thing for too much land to belong to any one organisation or type of organisation.