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Environmental Land Management and the agricultural transition inquiry launched

4 December 2020

Ministers have introduced the Government’s plans for an agricultural transition in England as the most fundamental shift in farming policy for 50 years. In anticipation of the phasing out of EU-style direct payments, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee today launches its inquiry into Environmental Land Management and the agricultural transition.

The transition period between from the existing to the proposed scheme is set to last 7 years, with questions remaining about the impact on farmers, and how the Sustainable Farming Incentive will support landowners during the transition.

Ahead of the national pilot of the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM) launching in late 2021, the EFRA Committee will scrutinise the pilot's design, and question how the Government will ensure sufficient support to farmers and land managers throughout the transition to the new scheme.

Chair's comments

Chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP, said:

"The Government now has the opportunity deliver a new agricultural policy that's not only good for farmers and land managers, but also good for the environment. There are certainly questions to be asked over the coming years about the final plan. But in the here and now, it's the transition that we need to drill down into. The changeover needs to be done in a way which ensures farmers and land-owners are not left struggling to support their businesses and in the dark about how to access the new scheme."

The Committee is now seeking answers on the following questions, with an initial deadline of 29 January 2021:

  1. Is the Government’s timeframe for the national pilot, full roll-out of ELM and phasing out direct payments by 2027 feasible?
  2. Will the Sustainable Farming Incentive be a viable support measure for farmers before the full roll-out of ELM? Is further support required during the transition period?
  3. How effectively has Defra engaged with land managers and other stakeholders on the design of ELM, including on the transitional arrangements?
  4. How can ELM be made an attractive business choice for farmers and land managers while effectively delivering its policy goals?
  5. How can the Government ensure that ELM agreements achieve their intended environmental outcomes, reduce bureaucratic burdens on farmers and deliver value for money?
  6. What lessons should be learned from the successes and failures of previous schemes paying for environmental outcomes?

Further information

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