Details of green farming subsidies in England revealed

Farmers will be paid to protect hedgerows to cultivate biodiversity

The long-awaited details of England’s post-Brexit farm subsidy scheme have been released by the government.

Landowners and farmers will receive public money for environmental work and sustainable ways of producing food.

Environmental land management schemes (ELMS) will pay public money to farmers for actions such as managing crop pests without chemicals and working towards 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 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’re accelerating the rollout of our agricultural programs so everyone can be financially supported while protecting the planet by 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 agricultural policy change in England for 40 years.

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

In England, Elms will now include three payment schemes:

The sustainable agriculture incentive is expanded to include payments for hedge, grassland and soil care.

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

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

NFU vice president David Exwood said the detail was “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 achieve our climate and nature goals. There remains a need to pool actions to avoid a piecemeal approach,” he said.

The UK is one of the world’s naturally poorest countries – in the bottom 10% of countries – and the Soil Association’s head of agricultural policy, Gareth Morgan, said it was “fumbling”.

He said: ‘We welcome a greater sense of urgency from government to help farmers produce food resiliently and in harmony with nature. But much more is needed to help them make the transformative changes to help us achieve our climate and nature goals”.

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 stuff” on offer for struggling moorland or hill farmers. .

Payments under the CAP system were worth around £3.5 billion a year, and most were based on how much land each individual farmer owned, which has led to criticism that they benefited the very wealthy.

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