15 March 2021
FARMERS: What effect will the Environmental Land Management Scheme have on food supply in the UK?
There are three new Environmental Land Management Schemes: The Sustainable Farming Incentive, The Local Nature Recovery and The Landscape Recovery. These schemes have been designed to assist in achieving the goals set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, whilst at the same time offering support to the rural economy and underpinning the commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050. Read our latest article to find out more about these schemes..
How it works
The Sustainable Farming Incentive encourages farmers to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way. It is based around a set of standards and farmers will choose the standards they wish to follow and to which part of their land they wish to apply the standards. Each set of standards focuses on a feature such as grassland or hedgerows and then provides actions associated with that feature.
Farmers will be paid for the actions they carry out. The scheme is being piloted in 2021 and should be rolled out fully in 2022. Farmers are invited to sign up for the pilot scheme, for which they will receive a pilot participation payment. More information is available on the HMRC website.
Sustainable farming means working land in a way which helps to bring back pollinating wildlife such as bees and butterflies which are in decline and improving the quality of the soil, whilst at the same time keeping up with food supply targets. The ELM has been designed to pay farmers for helping to produce things which are good for us and the planet, but do not have any market value and from which the farmers cannot make a living.
Regenerative practices can also benefit farmers with a positive impact on the amount and quality of crops which regenerated land produces. For example, reducing the level of chemicals used in farming. Even the most productive of farms have areas of land in which crops do not grow well. These areas could be used to create wild habitats for pollinators and pest predators which research has shown go a long way towards increasing crop yields.
Replacing the Basic Payment Scheme
The scheme will replace the Basic Payment Scheme, which in simplistic terms, pays farmers based on the amount of land farmed and therefore those who own the most land tend to receive the most money. The new scheme rewards farmers for producing public benefits and therefore farms of any size can gain from it. There is a seven-year transitional period to phase out the Basic Payment Scheme, giving farmers plenty of time to get used to the new rules and to decide which areas of the new scheme will suit the way their farm works best.
Overall, it is expected that changing the way farmers use and work their land should be advantageous for both the general public and for farmers and that food supply can only be positively affected in the long-term. Parliament will receive a report on food security every three years, with the first report at the end of 2021.
The report will include an analysis of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on food supply, and a range of themes including global food availability, food safety and consumer confidence. It is hoped that by introducing the new scheme, the government can now further champion food production, creating and improving fairness and transparency in the supply chain from farm to fork.
The scheme will also allow investments in technology and research to keep UK farmers and food producers innovative and competitive. Investments can also be made in providing opportunities to help new entrants to join the industry as well as providing assistance to leave or retire.
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