This Government will maintain the total investment in the farming sector throughout this parliament. In England, the budget of £2.4 billion per year is being re-purposed in a way that will support farmer’s resilience and food security for years to come.
By gradually phasing out the untargeted Basic Payments of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, and replacing them with a flexible range of targeted grants and ongoing payments for farmers, we are increasing the level of support available for delivering on the priorities of farm productivity, environment, climate and animal health and welfare. All the money coming out of Basic Payment Scheme will go back into the sector each year, there will be no gap in investment.
We are not fixing allocations of ring-fenced money for schemes, as happened under the EU, but will learn and respond to demand and developments from the sector – keeping the spread of investment under review over time.
We have already seen uptake and enthusiasm from farmers in certain areas and have been able to adapt flexibly to this demand. For example, the budget for the new Farming Equipment and Technology fund was increased to account for high demand. As a result, more than 4,000 farmers can invest in new equipment and technology, supporting and improving domestic food production.
Defra has recently released further information on the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) - designed to help farmers move to new alternative sustainable farming methods gradually, improving environmental conditions of the land, whilst building the long-term resilience of our food security and production.
The SFI is one of three new schemes under Environmental Land Management which will maintain productive land, delivering for both farmers and the environment.
Our schemes will ensure our long-term food security by investing in the foundations of food production: healthy soil; water; and biodiverse ecosystems.
The Government continues to monitor the wider context of global supplies that we know can impact farm income and productivity, as well as food security. The Secretary of State recently announced several other measures to support our farmers in the current uncertainty, notably regarding the use of urea fertiliser - helping farmers manage their costs better, as well as improving the statutory guidance for the use of slurry.
I recently launched and chaired the first session of a new industry fertiliser roundtable, aiming to work through issues regarding slurry to develop our understanding of current pressures on farmers and identify solutions. The Fertiliser Taskforce is just one example of where the Government is working with closely with industry to improve market confidence - providing farmers with the information needed to make business decisions, in these challenging times.