Following lobbying from the Country Land and Business Association, Defra has announced that upland farmers will benefit from improved access to the government’s farming schemes.
The announcement, made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, explained that the UK Government will:
- Make payment rates in environmental land management schemes equal for both upland and lowland farms where they are carrying out the same actions. This means increased rates for upland farmers in four Countryside Stewardship options.
- Review and amending a further seven Countryside Stewardship options make them more accessible to upland farmers.
- Improve engagement with upland farmers with focused advice and support to help them access schemes.
The CLA has welcomed the announcement, as this is good news for those already in Countryside Stewardship agreements, and might encourage more people to apply. The update will also boost the appeal of the Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023 offer for those farming low input grassland in the uplands, with the payment rate increase from £98/ha to £151.
We have been working hard to champion the needs of upland farmers – many of whom have felt forgotten in the move towards Environmental Land Management schemes. Whilst there is more work to do, this announcement shows that the UK Government is listening to the farming community.