NFU calls for 'realistic timetables' for transition to post-Brexit scheme

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith the post-Brexit ELM scheme must have 'farming at its heart'
NFU Deputy President Guy Smith the post-Brexit ELM scheme must have 'farming at its heart'

The NFU has urged the government to plan 'realistic timetables' for the transition to a post-Brexit farming scheme.

The government has made it clear that its direction of travel for a new agricultural policy is about moving to a system of paying “public money for public goods”.

Defra's recent ‘Health and Harmony’ consultation paper spelled out the desire to phase out direct payments to farmers and shift funding into new Environmental and Land Management (ELM) schemes.

The aim of the new programme will be to deliver benefits such as improved air, water and soil quality, increased biodiversity, climate change mitigation, cultural benefits and to better protect the historic environment.

Defra hopes to have 82,500 farmers enrolled on the post-Brexit scheme by 2028.

But a recent report released from the National Audit Office (NAO) into the future delivery of the ELMs has raised fears over inadequate planning.

The NFU reiterated the report and said timescales are 'incredibly tight to develop a successful scheme'.

Deputy President Guy Smith said: “There are many issues that need to be worked through to have new environmental land management pilots starting in 2021.

“During the transition to ELMs it is important that all farmers can access agri-environment schemes and support is available to help farmers improve productivity.”

He added that any new Environmental Land Management System scheme must be 'simple and straightforward' and have 'farming at its heart'.

“It must be accessible to all farmers and farm types across the country, allowing them to choose what they want to deliver on, whether that be improvements to soil, air or water quality, enhancing our natural capital, as well as wildlife,” Mr Smith said.

The NFU is working with Defra on the ELMs development and considering what type of advice and guidance is needed.