The government’s long-awaited Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme will be phased in as direct payments are phased out – but won’t be fully up and running by 2024.
This means farmers face a funding gap because cuts to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will begin from January 2021 but ELM payments will not be fully available to farms for another four years.
The government says it will introduce a stepping-stone Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme to bridge this gap. But it is thought unlikely that farmers will be able to recoup all the income lost from BPS by joining the SFI.
Defra secretary George Eustice unveiled details of the new scheme on Monday (30 November). Focusing payments almost solely on environment measures represents the biggest change to farm policy in England for more than 50 years.
Countryside Stewardship schemes will remain open to new applications in the first few years of the agricultural transition period, said Mr Eustice. This would help farmers to springboard into the upcoming Environmental Land Management scheme.