The Government has published an update to its Agricultural Transition Plan, which outlines principles for payments under environmental schemes and the Sustainable Farming Incentive.
Farmers will be able to earn up to £70 per hectare for actions to improve the health of their soil and livestock farmers will be eligible for a free vet-led annual health and welfare review, Environment Secretary George Eustice said.
During his speech at the Cereals arable event, Mr Eustice set out further details around how farmers will receive paymentsfor different schemes under the Agricultural Transition Plan, which outlines the government’s roadmap towards introducing a renewed agricultural system now we are free from the Common Agricultural Policy – this will be tailored in the interests of English farmers and co-designed and developed in partnership with industry.
Mr Eustice also set out that moorland farmers will be able to be paid to assess the condition of their land, and confirmed the early roll-out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive from spring 2022.
Over this Parliament, the government has committed to maintaining the current levels of investment in farming of £2.4 billion per year, on average.
Mr Eustice said: “Soil health is the key to delivering our targets on the environment and improving farm profitability. Well managed soils can lead to increased biodiversity, improved water quality and reduced carbon emissions. Our new Sustainable Farming Incentive will eventually be open to every farmer in England and will incentivise a shift towards more sustainable soil and grassland management.
“The Sustainable Farming Incentive will be the first of three environmental land management schemes to be rolled out and will include actions to improve soil health and water quality, enhance hedgerows and promote integrated pest management.
“The scheme is designed to be accessible, relevant and attractive to the widest possible range of farmers to achieve the aim of at least 70% of eligible farms taking part by 2028. An initial call for applicants for the pilot was answered by more than 2,000 farmers and land managers.”