The document sets out our environment and climate ambitions for the 3 new, complementary environmental land management schemes: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery.
It covers intended outcomes, including:
- bringing soil under sustainable management
- reducing agricultural emissions
- woodland creation
- halting the decline in species
- reducing the main agricultural pollutants that enter watercourses
- restoration of rivers, lakes and other freshwater habitats
Published 6 January 2022
Parliamentary Committee warns DEFRA’s plan for post-EU land and farming subsidies based on “blind optimism”
Plans for the scheme to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy depend on changes in land use that bring both increased farm productivity and environmental benefits, but a new report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee says Defra itself concedes “its confidence in the scheme looks like blind optimism”.
According to the MPs who sit on the Committee, Defra has given no detail about how either the necessary productivity increases or environmental benefits will be brought about, nor how these will offset the new Environmental Land Management Scheme’s (ELM) dramatic effect on English farmers, who will see their income from direct payments reduce by more than half by 2024-25.
The EU’s CAP provided financial support to farmers and rural development funding for more than 40 years before Brexit – in 2019-20 farmers in England received over £1.8 billion in direct payment subsidies.
The report says the Scheme appears “beset with many of the same issues that have undermined ambitious Government programmes in recent years.” In addition, the lack of information from Defra early enough to allow farmers to plan their businesses and take advantage of the new opportunities “is causing anxiety in the sector, exacerbated by a historic lack of trust caused by the Department’s past failures in managing farm payments”.
Defra has also “not explained how the Scheme’s changes in land use will not simply result in more food being imported, with the environmental impacts of food production being ‘exported’ to countries with lower environmental standards.”
The Committee says Defra has not established the metrics or objectives to enable it to demonstrate that the £2.4 billion a year it plans to spend on agricultural schemes is providing value for money, or contributing to government’s wider environmental goals including the statutory commitment to reach net-zero carbon economy by 2050.