Detail of England’s green farming subsidies revealed

Detail of England’s green farming subsidies revealed

Detail of England’s green farming subsidies revealed

Clouds over fields of poppies with fences on the edge.  The view over the Vale of York from Yorkshire Lavender Farm near Terrington, North Yorkshire.

Farmers will be paid to protect plants to cultivate biodiversity

Long-awaited details of the post-Brexit farm subsidy scheme have been published by the government.

Landowners in England will be rewarded for environmental work as well as food production.

Environmental Land Management Schemes (Elms) will pay farmers public money for actions such as managing crop pests without chemicals and working towards net zero.

The measures were widely welcomed by farming and environmental groups.

According to the government, the money will allow farmers to produce food sustainably, while protecting nature and enhancing the environment.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said farmers are at the heart of the economy, producing food but also being custodians of the land it comes from.

“These two roles go hand in hand and we are accelerating the expansion of our agricultural programs so that everyone can be financially supported as they protect the planet while producing food more sustainably,” he said.

The elms are designed to replace the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) now that the UK is no longer part of the EU. They represent the biggest shake-up of farming policy in England for 40 years.

Agricultural policy in the UK is a devolved responsibility and each nation operates its own subsidy schemes.

In England, Elms will now include three payment systems:

The incentive for sustainable agriculture is extended to include payments for the care of plants, pastures and soils.

Countryside Stewardship Plus will reward farmers “for taking concerted action, working with neighboring farms and landowners to support climate and nature goals.

This includes natural flood management, peatland restoration and woodland enhancement.

NFU vice-president David Exwood said the detail was “incredibly useful” and provided “some of the clarity we’ve been asking for”.

Martin Lines, chairman of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, said it wasn’t perfect but it was a “start”.

“However, individual actions alone will not achieve our climate and nature goals. There remains a need for coherence between actions to avoid a piecemeal approach.

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world – in the bottom 10% of countries – and the Soil Association’s Head of Agricultural Policy, Gareth Morgan, said it was “suffering to the extreme”.

“We welcome the Government’s increased sense of urgency to help farmers produce food sustainably and in harmony with nature. But much more is needed to help them make the transformative changes that will help us achieve our climate goals and nature.”

Mark Tufnell, Chairman of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said many arable farmers would be encouraged to experiment with the new schemes, but there was “little new” on offer for upland or hill farmers.

Payments under the CAP scheme were worth around £3.5bn a year and most were based on how much land each farmer owned, leading to criticism that they benefited the wealthiest.

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