The new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) must be flexible and have farming at its heart, the NFU said today, as the government consultation draws to a close.
The scheme is due to be rolled out in 2024, replacing the existing environmental schemes currently available under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “The consultation on the new ELMS has given us a great opportunity to get a range of views from our members through our website and in virtual meetings to form the basis of our submission to government.
“Although the consultation has provided an outline for a future scheme, many farmers expected more information on what that scheme will look like, particularly with pilots expected to start next year and the full ELMS roll-out in 2024. We urgently need Defra to provide further clarity.
“The NFU has always called for a smooth transition to future farm support post-Brexit and Defra needs to outline what schemes will be available during the transition before ELMS is fully available.
“Farms are dynamic businesses and the new ELMS must embrace that. It must be simple, flexible and accessible to all farmers and farm types across the country, allowing farmers and growers to choose what they want to deliver, whether that is improvements to soil, air or water quality, as well as habitats and wildlife, at the same time as producing food.
“Payments also need to provide an incentive to farmers to take part and reward them for what they deliver for the environment. Without viable farming businesses who will protect and enhance our countryside?
“If ELMS is properly designed, it could offer the UK farming industry a golden opportunity to achieve net zero and become a global leader in climate friendly food and farming. The NFU will continue to work with Defra on the scheme’s development.”