Katie Hilton, Associate, Cheffins comments:
“The Government’s new 25 Year Environment Plan confirms that there will be a move to a new environmental land management system for farmers after a ‘period of stability to ensure a smooth transition’. Mr Gove is clearly an advocate of the old Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) scheme and can really see the benefit that this flexible, user-friendly policy encouraged. A future scheme is likely to see very similar aims to those in the current Mid-Tier Stewardship, but with a less bureaucratic approach to reinstate the broad participation in these schemes that ELS so successfully achieved. The concept of Natural Capital is also being thrown into the mix and we are expecting to see new approaches including payments for ecosystem services, reverse auctions and conservation covenants. However, as further details being to take shape, going forward it will be imperative that the Government sticks to its commitment for wider consultation with farmers and other stakeholders to ensure a pragmatic and fair deal for agriculture.
The Plan shows a significant emphasis on optimising sustainable food production and the challenge will lie in how to incentivise a broad move in the direction of, for example, min and no till agriculture and cover cropping when farm husbandry is shaped by wide variations in circumstances such as soil types.
Agri-tech developments continue to feature highly through the thread of Mr Gove’s vision for UK agriculture and this is certainly an exciting area for the eastern region in particular, with fast-paced research and innovation already making headway to improve farm performance.
The 25 Year Plan New Farming rules are to be introduced for water as soon as April 2018 with a review period after three years, and frameworks are also proposed for fertiliser and pesticide use and soil health. More detail is expected in a Command Paper due to be published later this spring.”
For more information please contact Katie Hilton on 01223 271959.