The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs today (Thursday 26 January 2023) set out the latest details for the Environmental Land Management Scheme.
In response, Soil Association Head of Farming Policy Gareth Morgan said:
“The government is failing to make clear how they will give farmers confidence to invest in the radical changes needed for a resilient and sustainable, agroecological farming sector. We are facing a climate emergency and ecological collapse – there are welcome elements in today’s announcement but we must stop tinkering around the edges. Government must provide the long-term vision to help farmers do more than make small changes. They need a package of guidance and incentives that spark a shift to nature-friendly farming across their entire farms.
“Much that is set to be rewarded in this new policy was already part of existing Countryside Stewardship policies, and it remains unclear as to which scheme farmers should choose or how the policies will work together. The new incentives for agroecological and organic farming practices – like avoiding insecticides and using legumes for soil fertility instead of chemicals – are welcome. But information on the promised organic standard or any clarity for our sustainable farming pioneers is still missing. Support for game-changing action like planting more trees on farms is also desperately needed.
“We welcome an increased sense of urgency from government to help farmers to produce food resiliently and in harmony with nature. Farmers should be reassured by the direction signalled, but much more is needed to help them make the transformative changes to help us meet our climate and nature goals.”
There is unprecedented consensus on the case for the transition to agroecology – from farming leaders, NGO leaders, the National Food Strategy, Green Alliance and a forthcoming Royal Society report.