Farming News - NFU responds to latest changes to government’s ELM programme

NFU responds to latest changes to government’s ELM programme

In response to the latest changes to the government's Environmental Land Management (ELM) programme, NFU Deputy President David Exwood said: "We have always said that the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) must provide incentives to support food production alongside improving the environment, so it's encouraging that the new offer appears to be improved, broader and more flexible - changes that the NFU has been asking for.


"Farmers and growers will need to take a close look at the latest developments provided by Defra and consider how these can be applied on farm. They include a hugely expanded SFI offer from 23 to 102 actions following a merger of SFI with CS Mid Tier, with a new improved moorland offer. This recognises the role hill farmers play in producing our food and looking after some of our most challenging and iconic farming landscapes. 

"Details of the new CS Higher Tier scheme including eligibility, actions available and how to apply, will not be published until later this year with the aim of farmers and growers being able to start agreements in 2025. We urge Defra to supply these details as soon as possible to help those ending agreements or anyone wanting to transfer across from Higher Level Stewardship (HLS).

"It is important now that Defra and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) ensure that all these schemes have the resources needed to make delivery a success, with clear timelines for the application processes which will provide further clarity and allow our members to put together comprehensive agreements needed for their farming businesses.

"All farming sectors are feeling the squeeze following the cumulative loss of direct payments over the past four years and the slow transition to the ELM scheme. As we set out in our election manifesto, it's vital the next government looks at the agricultural budget to ensure the UK farming sector is resilient and thriving, so our farmers and growers can continue doing what they do best; contributing to our national food security by producing sustainable, climate-friendly food alongside protecting and enhancing our precious environment."