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Environment schemes bolstered for upland farmers

Following campaigning from the Countryside Alliance and across the agricultural and rural sectors, the Government has announced an improved offer to upland farmers participating in Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS). 

Announcing the changes, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey MP, said: 

“The uplands are a hugely important part of our English landscape and heritage and upland farmers are crucial for our rural economy. 

“We’ve worked closely with upland farmers from day one, and they’ve told me personally what further support they need, so today we’re further responding to their feedback with increased payments, an improved offer and more engagement to ensure they are at the centre of our schemes.” 

The Government has said that the changes will mean ELMS payment rates will be equalised between upland and lowland farms taking the same actions, meaning that upland farmers will see increased rates when taking advantage of four Countryside Stewardship options. A further seven options will be reviewed so that they can become more accessible to upland farmers, and engagement and advice on how to access schemes will be improved. 

This will mean farmers achieving low inputs in upland areas will see an increase in their reward from £98 to £151 per hectare, whereas those creating upland woodland pasture will see an increase from £333 to £544 per hectare, equivalent to that granted in lowland areas. 

From 2024 upland farmers will be eligible for payments for over 130 relevant actions under Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive, including new actions directly targeting moorlands and upland peat. Additional payments for farmers in a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be available through the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme. 

Further details are available in Defra’s press release

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