Game-changing countryside shake-up that pays farmers to go green and replaces EU’s common agricultural policy will be unveiled TODAY
- The ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive’ will replace EU’s common agricultural policy
- Environment Secretary George Eustice will outline the scheme in a speech today
- Farming accounts for more than 10 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions
Radical plans to overhaul subsidies for farmers are to be unveiled today.
The ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive’ will replace the EU’s common agricultural policy that was worth more than £3.5billion a year.
It will reward farmers for protecting the environment instead of largely receiving payments to grow crops and rear livestock.
Environment Secretary George Eustice will outline the scheme in a speech today to landowners in London.
Environment Secretary George Eustice (pictured) will outline the scheme in a speech today to landowners in London
He will say: ‘While it is not for me to tell an individual farmer what to do, I accept that we need to be clear about the policy outcomes we seek.
‘These are to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030; to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions; to plant up to 10,000 hectares of trees per year in England, to improve water quality; to create more space for nature in the farmed landscape.’
He will add that the aim is to ‘ensure a vibrant and profitable food and farming industry’.
Farming accounts for more than 10 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions, making it critical to climate change.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) praised the scheme as potentially ‘the most progressive and environmentally responsible’ of its kind.
But Britain’s three biggest nature charities – the Wildlife Trusts, National Trust and RSPB – said it was a ‘huge disappointment’.
Instead of encouraging farmers to prevent harm to the environment in the form of air and water pollution and soil erosion, the scheme rewards the status quo, the charities claimed.
They added that standards saying legumes, which improve soil health, are required on only 15 per cent of land was ‘a really low ambition’.
Craig Bennett of the Wildlife Trusts said: ‘After leaving the EU, we were promised that the billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money given to farmers would be used to improve our natural world.
Farming accounts for more than 10 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions, making it critical to climate change
But today’s publication shows a shocking lack of ambition. There’s so much that farmers could be rewarded for doing, such as restoring peatlands and employing ambitious measures to prevent soil and pollutants from washing into rivers – to help wildlife and store carbon.’
He added: ‘It’s an absolute scandal that the Government has failed to seize this unique and important opportunity.’
Hilary McGrady of the National Trust said: ‘The future of wildlife and climate now looks uncertain as today’s announcement falls short of the ambitious reforms promised.
‘Farmers need a clear path to a future where nature is at the heart of sustainable and secure food production, not the short diversion this new scheme creates.’
Mark Tufnell of the CLA said: ‘Today is a major milestone in the development of England’s new agriculture policy.
‘The schemes have the potential to be the most progressive and environmentally responsible schemes of their kind anywhere in the world.
‘The detail announced today of the Sustainable Farming Incentive fires the starting gun on our transition towards a more sustainable and resilient farming sector.’