Agriculture: Government Assistance

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd August 2022.

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Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Conservative, Chippenham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to support farmers in (a) Wiltshire and (b) the UK with rising costs.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Farming in England is going through the biggest change in a generation. These unprecedented times mean that it is all the more important that the Government's approach to working with the farming sector changes too. Defra is continuing to improve its policies and services, making them more effective, fairer, flexible, accessible and more workable for farmers. The Government has announced a range of measures in England in response to the turbulence of the current market.

In response to the global rising costs around the price of fertiliser, Defra released new guidance to help farmers in limiting their use of slurry and other farmyard manure at certain times of the year.

Defra also announced changes to the use of urea fertiliser - delaying a planned industry farm assurance scheme which was due to start this year by at least a year. This will help farmers to manage their costs, giving them more time to adapt.

Defra has set up a Fertiliser Taskforce to address the impact of global supply pressures on farming, seeking to improve market confidence, whilst providing famers with the information they need to make business decisions on fertiliser use.

Additionally, Defra announced a permanent change to the way we make payments under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). We know that the price of agricultural commodities has always been closely correlated to energy prices - meaning farmers carry an increased risk on their profit and loss account, creating increased pressure on short term cash flow. We will now make BPS payments in two instalments (one from the end of July, the other December). This will give farm businesses an advanced injection of cash - with the hope of enabling farmers to make business decisions with more confidence in these uncertain times. To provide further support we have also increased Countryside Stewardship rates by an average of 30%.

Farmers are now able to apply for funding under the Sustainable Farming Incentive. The initial offer pays farmers for taking care of their soil or assessing the condition of moorland. We have to set out plans to rollout payments for actions related to nutrient management, hedgerows and integrated pest management, and will confirm the full details of these standards before the end of the year.

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