Defra Secretary, George Eustice, said: “The so-called greening requirements have added little to our environmental efforts. We believe that farmers will benefit from this reduced bureaucratic burden next year as we begin the move towards our new Environmental Land Management scheme which will deliver greater benefits for the environment.
“We will be setting out more detail in the autumn on how we will ensure a smooth transition for our farmers, as they move towards our new, fairer agricultural system, which will reward them for the hard work that they do to protect our environment.”
The agricultural transition period, starting in 2021, will last for seven years and see direct payments to farmers in England phased out gradually and replaced with a new system that rewards farmers for delivering public goods, such as tree or hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, and creating or restoring habitats for wildlife.
In the majority of cases, the gradual reduction in these payments will be offset by alternative support being made available to help farmers improve their productivity and aid their transition into the new Environmental Land Management scheme.
Defra said the new Environmental Land Management scheme, expected to be rolled out in late-2024, will introduce new ways of working together with farmers to deliver better environmental outcomes and reverse the decline of some of our most cherished species
NFU vice president Tom Bradshaw said: “The NFU has been seeking clarification of the greening rules for the 2021 scheme for many months, particularly around the position on the crop diversification rules, so that our members can plan their cropping for harvest 2021.
“Although the NFU has never been critical of the environmental intent of the crop diversification requirements, we have always been concerned that this EU-legacy scheme has never been applied with the flexibility needed to suit varying weather and farming situations in Britain.
“I am hopeful that the changes to greening rules will remove some of the complexities farmers face in interacting with multiple scheme rules.
“At the same time, I am confident that farmers will use experiences of greening to develop their existing approaches to land management and build on their invaluable role working to protect and enhance the environment as we prepare for the introduction of a new domestic agricultural policy and Environmental Land Management Schemes. “