Details of green farm subsidies in England unveiled

Details of green farm subsidies in England unveiled

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

Farmers will be paid to protect hedgerows to promote biodiversity

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

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

Environmental Land Stewardship (ELMS) programs will pay farmers public money for actions such as managing crop pests without chemicals and achieving net zero.

The measures have been widely welcomed by agricultural and environmental groups.

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

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said farmers are at the heart of the economy, producing food but also stewards of the land from which it comes.

“These two roles go hand in hand and we are accelerating the rollout of our agricultural programs so that everyone can be financially supported as they protect the planet while producing food more sustainably,” she 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 to agricultural policy in England for 40 years.

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

In England, the Elms will now include three payment schemes:

The incentive for sustainable agriculture is extended to include payments for the maintenance of hedgerows, meadows and soils.

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

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

NFU Vice President David Exwood said the details were “incredibly helpful” and provided “some of the clarity we’ve been asking for”.

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

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

The UK is one of the most nature-poor countries in the world – in the top 10% of countries – and Soil Association agricultural policy officer Gareth Morgan said he was “tinkering the edges”.

“We welcome an increased sense of urgency from the government to help farmers produce food in a resilient way and in harmony with nature. But more needs to be done to help them make the transformative changes that will help us achieve our climate and nature goals.

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

Payments under the CAP system amounted to around £3.5billion a year and most were based on how much land each farmer owned, leading to criticism that they profited to the richest.

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