Farm Grants Overhauled To Incentivise Environmental Protection
The government has announced that the farm grants scheme is now being overhauled in a bid to incentivise farmers to take additional steps to protect the environment.
The new initiative will see older farmers across England paid to retire, potentially receiving lump sum payments of £50,000, with a cap of £100,000 for those with the most land, the BBC reports.
According to environment secretary George Eustice, there are some older farmers currently resisting making the move to greener methods of working and this new scheme could see new blood brought into the trade for the benefit of local environments.
Under the old EU system, farmers receive grants based on the amount of land they work, with the average farmer receiving around £21,000 in grants. Mr Eustice suggested that this system encourages some “to coast and take no risks”, holding onto land in order to collect subsidies.
He went on to say: “I understand the burden of expectation that can exist to loyally continue the family tradition [of farming] and how this sometimes stands in the way of change. A fresh perspective can make a world of difference. New entrants are the lifeblood of any vibrant industry and farming is no exception.”
A survey was carried out by the Tenant Farmers’ Association and revealed that three-quarters of those asked said they would be seriously interested in the new retirement scheme.
George Dunn, chief executive of the organisation, explained to the news source that while he supports the plan for this lump sum based on the grants farmers would have received if they’d stayed in business, the government will have to make it easy for people to take up the offer – and “not drown them in bureaucracy”.
He added: “The payments on their own won’t be enough – but when you tie in other factors, such as selling livestock, some farmers will want to take it up. For people on larger holdings, it won’t be very attractive – but a lot of owner-occupiers might find it attractive.”
According to the Environment Agency, farming is one of the biggest sources of pollution incidents in England – and one of the main reasons why 40 per cent of the rivers and groundwaters in the country need to be improved.
In 2018, for example, farming activities resulted in 77 serious incidents of pollution in waterways, damaging water, land, soil and ecosystems. Slurry and silage effluent cause the most serious incidents – and one investigation of a catchment area revealed that 95 per cent of dairy farms were failing to meet water protection standards.
It was observed that because the use of farming and rural land is always changing, the industry will have to continue evolving as well in order to adapt to changes in government policy, market conditions and climate change.
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