Environmental Land Management scheme: worth the wait?

Schemes targeted at enhancing the environment, protecting the countryside, improving the productivity of the farming sector and improving animal health and welfare.

“So will it be a ground-breaking scheme that delivers once-in-a-generation change or is there a danger its rollout will be met by low uptake and disappointment?”

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The future of farming in the UK rests largely on the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme – as outlined by the Naitonal Audit Office:

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is developing the Future Farming and Countryside Programme as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform agriculture”. It will consist of schemes targeted at enhancing the environment, protecting the countryside, improving the productivity of the farming sector and improving animal health and welfare.

image: National Audit Office

Central to Defra’s proposals is the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM), the primary mechanism for distributing the funding previously paid under CAP. Instead of CAP direct payments, ELM will pay farmers for undertaking actions to improve the environment. It has three components, each of which will be launched in full in 2024:

  • The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will be open to all farmers and will pay them for actions to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way.
  • Local Nature Recovery will pay for more complex actions that deliver benefits at a local level and aims to encourage collaboration between farmers.
  • Landscape Recovery will support large-scale projects to deliver landscape and ecosystem recovery through long-term land-use change projects such as large‑scale tree planting and peatland restoration.

Before launching ELM in full, Defra is piloting its three components, starting with an initial cohort of farmers from October 2021. In March 2021, Defra invited farmers to express interest in participating in the pilot. In addition, Defra intends to launch some core elements of SFI at scale in mid-2022.

The Environmental Land Management scheme | nao.org.uk

A lot of people are concerned about how it’s going to work out.

Farm business outlook 2022: Farm policy | fwi.co.uk

Farmers in England to be paid for looking after soil health from next year | guardian.com

Charities label post-Brexit scheme for sustainable farming a ‘huge disappointment’ | bigissue.com

A different kind of farming for the future of people, planet, and farmers | thatsfarming.com

Here’s a piece from this week’s ‘Rural Hub’:

It has been a long time coming but we are about to see whether the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, in its various forms, has been worth the wait.

Lots of people are desperate for it to be a success. Farmers want a practical scheme with clear environmental outcomes and easy-to-deal-with administration. Environmentalists see the transition from Basic Payments to payments for public goods as the golden opportunity of a generation to reverse the wildlife and climate crises. And Defra and the government desperately want it to be a success to show that global Britain can be world-leading, free from the EU and the ‘bureaucratic’ Common Agricultural Policy.

So will it be a ground-breaking scheme that delivers once-in-a-generation change or is there a danger its rollout will be met by low uptake and disappointment?

Critical six months lie ahead for ELM scheme | rural.struttandparker.com

Questions around the ELM have been asked for some time now:

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