Farming: 'A robust, resilient, sustainable system' is needed
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Farmers previously received grants under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with grant sizes based on how much land they farmed. The Government hopes to replace this scheme with one that rewards farmers for using their land for other purposes.
This will include establishing new nature reserves, restoring floodplains and creating woodlands and wetlands.
Whitehall has dubbed its Local Nature Recovery (LNR) scheme as “radical”, bringing the “biggest change to farming and land management in 50 years”.
It would like to see 60 percent of England’s agricultural soil under “sustainable management” by 2023.
By 2042, it hopes up to 300,000 hectares will have been restored as wildlife habitats.
More than 3,000 farmers are said to have already begun testing the scheme.
Environment Secretary George Eustice claimed LNR will help create “more space for nature”.
He said: “Through our new schemes, we are going to work with farmers and land managers to halt the decline in species, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, increase woodland, improve water and air quality and create more space for nature.
“We are building these schemes together, and we are already working with over 3,000 farmers across the sector to test and trial our future approach.
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“Farmers will be able to choose which scheme or combination of schemes works best for their business, and we will support them to do so.”
The EU’s CAP required farmers to meet standards on environmental management and animal welfare in order to receive grants.
The Government intends to put these at the heart of grantability.
Coming up to six years after Britons voted to leave the EU, Tony Juniper, the Chair of Natural England, claimed new ministerial plans marked an “historic shift”.
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Mr Juniper said: “Collectively, these schemes mark an historic shift in the way we manage our land, setting us on course toward the production of sustainable food at the same time as rising to the urgent task if halting and reversing the decline of Nature.
“More than two thirds of England is farmed and these reforms pave the way for those who manage the land to produce healthy food alongside other vital benefits, such as carbon storage, clean water, reduced flood risk, thriving wildlife and beautiful landscapes for everyone to enjoy.”
He added: “At Natural England we look forward to working with the Government to breathe life into England’s Nature Recovery Network, including through the very exciting ambition to create large scale Landscape Recovery Areas.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the scheme will be “voluntary”, but a reliance of grants will likely force many British farmers to move parts of their practice away from farming and towards environmental care.
The LNR will be trialled in 2023.
A full roll-out is scheduled to take place in 2024.
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