Plans to deliver a revised farming system in England, transforming the way farmers are supported beyond Brexit, have been set out by the Government. Changes will come into force over a period of seven years to help farmers adapt and plan for a future outside the EU. The Government plans to introduce a new system, tailored to the interests of farmers and land managers, rewarding them for sustainable farming practices.
The changes will be designed to ensure that by 2028, farmers can sustainably produce healthy food profitably without subsidy, whilst taking steps to benefit the environment, improve animal health and welfare and reduce carbon emissions.
The ‘Path to Sustainable Farming’ document sets out more detail on the upcoming changes and what they will mean for farmers. The key changes include:
Investing in improving animal health and welfare, initially focusing on controlling or eradicating endemic diseases amongst cattle, pigs and sheep.
Reducing Direct Payments, starting from the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme year, with the money released being used to fund new grants and schemes to boost farmers’ productivity and reward environmental improvements.
Launching a Farming Investment Fund to support innovation and productivity. This scheme will open for applications in 2021, offering grants for equipment, technology and infrastructure for the future that will improve productivity and deliver environmental and other public benefits. The scheme will be formed of two strands; the Farming Equipment Technology Fund, which will offer small grants for the purchase of specified items and the Farming Transformation Fund, which will provide larger grants towards the cost of more substantial investments in equipment, technology or infrastructure.
The Government’s document also includes details of the proposed Environmental Land Management (ELM) Scheme, which aims to incentivise sustainable farming practices, create habitats for nature recovery and establish new woodland to help tackle climate change. ELM will consist of three components:
The Sustainable Farming Incentive, supporting approaches to farm husbandry that deliver for the environment, such as actions to improve soil health, hedgerows and integrated pest management.
Local Nature Recovery, which will pay for actions such as creating, managing or restoring habitats, natural flood management and species management.
Landscape Recovery, focusing on landscape and ecosystem recovery through projects looking to achieve large-scale forest and woodland creation, peatland restoration, or the creation and restoration of coastal habitats.
Work is ongoing to design the ELM scheme in collaboration with farmers and land managers and will continue next year, with the expected launch of a National Pilot in late 2021. Expressions of interest for the pilot are expected to open early next year.
Meanwhile, the Government also aims to simplify and improve existing schemes and their application processes further from January 2021 to reduce the burden on farmers.