Farming is undergoing the biggest transformation in a generation. Post-Brexit, the Government is establishing their own agricultural schemes to achieve their aims of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and, in line with the 25 Year Environment Plan, an approach to farming that puts the environment first.

There will be significant changes for small-scale farmers and tenants as the EU’s Basic Payment Scheme will be phased out by 2027. Instead of relying on subsidies, the Government is keen to foster more commercial partnerships between farmers and the private sector. This could include providing services like carbon offsetting from more polluting industries, or fulfilling biodiversity net gain requirements for the house building sector.

The Government is adopting a new approach – public money for public goods. Public goods can mean improved air and water quality, abundant wildlife, or carbon sequestration. These will be compensated through three schemes – the Sustainable Farming Incentive, which focuses on improving soil quality, the Local Nature Recovery Scheme, which rewards habitat creation, and the Landscape Recovery Scheme, which supports transformations across an area of 500 to 5,000 hectares.

The Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT) has been advocating for wildlife-friendly farming for almost 30 years, so we strongly welcomed the Government’s announcement of the Local Nature Recovery scheme as a step in the right direction to making productive, profitable farms that are teaming with wildlife the norm.

Moments of change such as this offer us a unique opportunity to forge a new path. The CRT therefore supports an ambitious vision for farming, wildlife and the countryside that achieves the greenhouse gas reductions and biodiversity increases that we urgently need to tackle the dual climate and nature crises.

Supporting wildlife on farmland is not simply a ‘nice to have’ but actually benefits the farm in many ways. For example, pollinators play a vital role, and beetles offer a form of natural pest control. The CRT would therefore welcome the minimum standards in ELMs to be strengthened and increased so that over time we achieve a more significant impact for nature.

To make this a reality, it’s important that farmers are brought along this journey with Defra. It’s right that farmers are rewarded financially for creating habitats or providing food for wildlife, public money for public goods, but communicating the business benefits of nature-friendly farming is essential. Money alone will not be enough to catalyse the transition towards farms abundant with wildlife that the CRT champions, when farmers could instead turn to a more intensified approach to agriculture, or worse, leave the industry all together.