The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee is to examine the Government’s progress rolling out its new farm payment system - the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) - which will replace payments made under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
ELMS will pay farmers and other landowners for delivering a range of ‘public goods’ including improved environment, better climate outcomes and improved animal health & welfare. The Government launched the strand of the policy aimed at farmers, the Sustainable Farming Initiative (SFI), in June 2022, with other schemes due to be piloted later this year.
The new inquiry – called Environmental Land Management Scheme: Progress Update – will look at:
· how the rollout of the ELMS scheme is going, and whether the Government has listened to feedback from the pilot schemes;
· how well the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is communicating the changes to farmers and other affected groups; and
· whether the ELMS aims and timescales need to change to respond to pressures facing farming such as increased fuel and fertiliser costs, as well as changing food prices.
The committee has looked at the government’s plans for ELMS before and published a report on it in October 2021, Environmental Land Management and the agricultural transition.
Chair of the EFRA Committee, Sir Robert Goodwill MP said:
“ELMS is the biggest change to agricultural and environmental policy for years and farmers are understandably concerned about what will replace the subsidies that many have come to rely on.
“As we are now starting to see the detail of the Government’s plans, we want to hear farmers and landowners’ views on the new system and how well they think DEFRA’s rollout is going.
Dr Neil Hudson MP for Penrith and The Border and Member of the EFRA Committee said:
“Our EFRA Select Committee, at my instigation, is going to look at the transition to new payments for our farmers and land managers. I represent a large rural area in Cumbria where farming is the lifeblood of the community and I know firsthand that farmers and land managers are very concerned at the challenges ahead with the changes in the way they are funded now we have left the EU and the pressures facing them with increased costs and international trade policy. That is why I was keen that our Committee looked at where we are at with the uptake and rollout of the new ELMS schemes so we can make recommendations to Government if any urgent remedial action is needed to help our farmers moving forward.”
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference for the forthcoming committee inquiry are:
1. What progress has the ELMS programme made since January 2022 (when the government responded to the first committee report on ELMS)?
2. What have farmers’ experiences been of applying to the SFI since its launch on 30 June 2022? How effectively has the scheme used the feedback from the SFI pilot? What are the timescales for launching additional standards under the SFI?
3. Is the government on track to get 70% of farmers, covering at least 70% of farmland, to take up SFI agreements? How have recent changes in global food prices impacted on the attractiveness of the financial incentives in the schemes?
4. Is ELMS on track to start piloting the Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes in 2022?
5. How effectively is the Government communicating and engaging with farmers and other landowner groups about the progress of ELMS?
6. Should the Government change the focus on the ELMS scheme and/or the timescales for implementation given the current pressures on farmers and UK food security?
How to get involved
The closing date for submission of written evidence is 2359 HRS on Sunday 21 August.
The Committee will also hold hearings with experts and stakeholders at oral evidence sessions, which will be announced nearer the time. These evidence sessions are normally held in public and can be watched on parliamentlive.tv
To keep abreast with the inquiry, please check our website or follow us on @CommonsEFRA