Over 300 UK farmers have contacted their MPs demanding the full rollout of key reforms to the farming sector aimed at enhancing wildlife, reducing greenhouse emissions and promoting nature conservation and restoration.
Last month, Liz Truss announced a review of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), a new set of subsidies set to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
The key Brexit promise has been in development for six years but now looks set to be watered down by Truss and the new Defra secretary Ranil Jayawardana.
A dash for growth
It is thought that Truss and her cabinet see environmental stewardship at odds with her dash for growth. But in the letter, coordinated by The Nature Friendly Farming Network, farmers say that this is a ‘false trade-off’.
It goes on to say that they were ‘promised agricultural policies that would make our farms the standard bearers for quality, sustainability, and profitability’ and that weakening environmental incentives would be ‘a poor use of public funds and wholly against the direction of travel within the sector’.
The letter, received by 148 Conservative MPs, will add to pressure on Truss and her cabinet to continue rolling out the new farm payments scheme, which ensures food production and environmental delivery can be achieved hand in hand.
‘The Environmental Land Management schemes are a signature policy achievement of recent Conservative governments. They are not just critical for the environment, but for food security and farm profitability too. It’s critical that the government continues with the rollout, so that the growing number of farmers who want to adopt more nature-friendly practices are properly rewarded.’
Director of the Conservative Environment Network
PM under fire
The prime minister has been criticised publicly over these proposals by senior Tory figures including Michael Gove and William Hague, as well as the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), whose director Sam Hall described ELMS as ‘critical for both food security and farm profitability’.
Meanwhile, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg appeared to contradict the prime minister over her plans to ban solar panels from most English farmland.