The agricultural industry is currently undergoing its biggest upheaval in over 50 years, central to this is the change from BPS to ELMS. In terms of farm policy, this change is hugely significant and it is important to consider how this change will impact your farm strategy over the coming years, from farm diversification plans to choice of the farm system.
The new Environment Management Scheme (ELMS) is not a mere substitute for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), so what exactly does ELMS have in store?
As we start to learn about life after the BPS we face a barrage of new acronyms and policies. It is something that we all need to get our heads around, and so I was delighted to recently escort the Agricultural Counsellor from the Dutch Embassy in London on a visit to a farm In Buckinghamshire which is already embracing some environmental practices.
The end of BPS means the end of direct support where you can claim an area payment by virtue of farming or owning land, and the clock is ticking, as we will experience another cut in our BPS payment due from December. This was driven home as we walked the farm. At one stage we stood in a wildflower meadow; on chalk soil, the field was set-a-side in 1983 and has naturally regenerated. I have never witnessed so many different varieties of orchids, stunningly beautiful. The field can be grazed in the spring by sheep although supplementary feeding is not allowed and the ‘crop’ is cut and removed in the autumn and composted, so virtually no physical output. But here comes the crunch; this may meet the required/desired environment outputs, but on a farm rented under an FBT on a high rent with accurate accounting, the field incurred a net loss of £30 per acre last year. This was a labour of love, and maybe an example of what will be expected of farmers and landowners, but it does not pay the bills!
The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is the first stage of ELMS. Planned for a full roll out in 2022 and available to all recipients of BPS, you will have to adopt certain criteria, known as ‘standards’, but they should fit with most farm types.
Following on, and available from 2024, will be the mid-level of ELMS, the Local Nature Recovery Scheme will provide payments for actions that target local environmental priorities as identified by DEFRA,
The upper-level of ELMS will constitute a Landscape Recovery Scheme which will be aimed at large-scale and long-term projects covering multiple holdings and requiring collaboration amongst farmers.
Farming in Protected Landscapes is a short-term scheme to assist upland farmers in a National Park or ANOB with advice and funding for businesses to diversify incomes, prepare for ELMS, and create more green jobs.
Attending the CLA Breakfast at Devon County Show, guest speaker Secretary of State, George Eustace, gave further insight into what measures may become available during the transition period for BPS to ELMS. This included an Animal Health visit, use of herbal leys, a Farming Investment Fund, and the previously announced Retirement Scheme
Article taken from Folk2folk