The government has unveiled the next stages of its Environmental Land Management Schemes.
The Soil Association welcomes the plans to reward farmers and landowners for delivering benefits to the environment, but is calling for more systemic change:
Soil Association policy director Jo Lewis said: “The latest announcements on the Environmental Land Management Schemes are encouraging, but they still risk falling short of the transformational change needed. To drive that change, we need clearer, quantified targets, such as for reducing pesticide and artificial nitrogen fertiliser.
“The government must also acknowledge that these schemes won’t work in isolation. They risk failure if they are forced to compete with mounting commercial pressures that encourage more intensive farming and cheap food production, for which the environment and our health ultimately pays the price.
“Rewarding nature-friendly farming practices is only part of the equation. We need fairer, shorter supply chains that prioritise nutritious food over cheap, ultra-processed food, and which fairly rewards farmers. And we must stop signing trade deals that undercut our farmers by wiping out nature abroad.
“The National Food Strategy has clearly said that most farmers on most land need to be farming agroecologically to reverse the climate, nature, and health crises. These farm payments are welcome, but the government’s White Paper response to the National Food Strategy’s recommendations will be a crucial test for how effective they will be.”