The transition of agricultural support payments will take place from 2021 to 2024. Over this time, British farmers will see an end to direct support payments, which are currently based on area claimed, and the introduction of incentive grants. These will be based on Government environmental objectives along with industry specific targets. 

Agricultural policy is going to change, but what that will mean for farmers is currently unclear. The Government’s Agricultural Transition Plan is currently in consultation and we will keep our clients updated on any developments.

What we do know is that the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) will comprise of three key components: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery.

1. The Sustainable Farming Incentive

This incentive will support farm businesses with sustainable approaches to farm husbandry which will have a benefit on the environment. These include equipment that will help improve the health and welfare of animals, as poor animal welfare results in ill health which reduces production and has a greater contribution to greenhouse gases. Other approaches include actions to improve soil health, water quality, hedgerows and pest management.

2. Local Nature Recovery

This approach will eventually replace the current Countryside Stewardship Scheme. It appears that it will be similar to the current stewardship schemes, with local environmental priorities outlined and targeted. 

3. Landscape Recovery

This will support long-term land use changes to increase biodiversity through the transformation of land into wild habitats, including woodland creation.

Grants to improve productivity

In addition to these three main components, there will also be grants to fund investments to help improve profitability while enhancing the environment. Although still in initial planning stages, support payments will continue to provide a boost to those new to farming but will also include and support those wishing to retire.

The scheme is still in a trial period, with elements undergoing consultation. As the different schemes are launched, more information will be released. 

Support payments are changing, with larger benefits for businesses which achieve environmental and animal welfare outcomes. Government support to help improve and increase natural capital through the likes of soil health, for example, will encourage farmers to invest. This will, ultimately, be beneficial for farmers through increased productivity. 

While more detail is yet to come, it is worth considering how your farm business could benefit from some of these new schemes. We will continue to keep our farming clients aware of changes to agricultural support payments and new grants.

For more information and support, please contact me at our Holsworthy office.

By Nikki Smale, Agricultural Consultant