Environmental farming scheme given green light

Agriculture

The Government has announced a £540,000 boost for UK agriculture from its Payment by Results (PBR) project for farmers undertaking work specifically tailored to the environmental needs of their area. It will be the first agri-environment scheme directly funded by the UK.

In future, all the funding for the Payment by Results (PBR) pilot will come from Defra, with the £540,000 boost announced to pay farmers according to the environmental outcomes they achieve over the next two years.

The project is currently paying participating farmers in Norfolk and Suffolk, and Wensleydale in Yorkshire. In Norfolk and Suffolk, farmers are benefitting from planting nectar plots for bees and other pollinators, while those in Wensleydale are focused on managing species-rich meadows.

The announcement follows the government’s public consultation on future farming policy which set out plans to move towards a system where farmers are paid according to the public goods they provide. As we leave the EU, there will be further trialling work to reach a model where profitable farm businesses and environmental land management can co-exist and complement one another.

Secretary of State for Defra, Michael Gove, said: “Under the CAP, agri-environment schemes have been overly bureaucratic and inflexible. This has impeded innovation for farmers who are passionate about the environment and want to see real change.

“The Payment by Results pilot marks a shift in how we think about rewarding farmers for their work. This approach signals how we see the future of farm payments, where farmers deliver public goods for the environment which we all enjoy.

“I am delighted to extend this scheme and look forward to seeing further evidence of its success as we plan for our future outside the EU.”

The PBR project had been due to conclude at the end of this year, but Defra’s new funding will enable participating farmers to deliver environmental benefits for an additional two years.

The trial is focused on providing training and guidance for farmers so they can create their own land management plan for their land.