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Support for Farmers

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of Richard Holden Richard Holden Conservative, North West Durham

What steps the Government are taking to ensure that farmers benefit from the Government's proposal to move from land-based to environmental enhancement-based support.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Our new environmental land management scheme will reward farmers and other land managers for delivering environmental public goods. We are committed to co-designing the scheme with stakeholders to produce the best possible outcomes for both the environment and our farmers and land managers. We are currently running a programme of tests and trials, which will be followed by a three-year national pilot, commencing in late 2021. The scheme will roll out from late 2024 across England.

Photo of Richard Holden Richard Holden Conservative, North West Durham

Although my upland farmers in Weardale are already working on schemes such as peat restoration and afforestation, my lowland farmers are particularly concerned that they might miss out on some of these environmental schemes. What reassurance can my hon. Friend give me that these schemes will be available to all?

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank my hon. Friend for that pertinent question. New schemes will be for all farmers, in all areas and for all types of landscape. At the moment, farmers can enter our new countryside stewardship agreements, which start from January 2021. Those who sign up to the improved scheme and who wish to enter the new environmental land management scheme will be able to leave their countryside stewardship agreements at agreed exit points, without penalty. Lots of farmers were concerned about that issue, but it is now clear that they can do that. Financial assistance under the environmental land management scheme will be available for all farmers and land managers, including lowland farmers in the country who undertake the eligible activities.