Time for farmers to step up for nature: Our letter to Farmers Guardian

As 70% of farmland in England has been in some form of environment scheme over the past ten years, it indicates that most farmers are willing to step up for nature (Treasury may slash ag budget if take-up of post-Brexit scheme is low, NAO warns, June 5th). This is under a system when the repayments are only for the costs incurred and profit forgone but contribute nothing to the bottom line.

Complicated and prescriptive rules, changes to detail mid-agreement and delayed payments have all dampened the enthusiasm for uptake, plus the fear of any breaches also reducing Basic Farm payments.

Let’s ensure any new scheme learns these lessons when the Environment Land Management Scheme (ELMS) comes forward.

The National Audit Office warning to Defra that Treasury will cut the agriculture budget in the event of a low uptake of ELMS by farmers is well timed and should be heeded if we want farmers to rekindle their previous enthusiasm.          

Alastair Leake
GWCT Director of Policy

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