Government pushes farmers to make space for nature

Harvey Davies Thrings Lawyer Agriculture

Farmers are being actively encouraged to protect and enhance nature on their land as part of a new Government incentive scheme.

The announcement by Farming Minister Mark Spencer at the Oxford Farming Conference should help to further support practices that encourage sustainability, including that of food production, amidst the global pressures of rising costs.

New changes unveiled at the conference mean farmers could receive up to a further £1,000 per year for taking nature-friendly action through the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). The new payment, to be made for the first 50 hectares of a farm in an SFI agreement, is in part aimed at attracting smaller businesses, including tenant farmers, who are currently underrepresented in the scheme.

Alongside the average increase of 10% to revenue payment rates for farmers with a Countryside Stewardship agreement and the updating of capital payment rates, this has the potential to help make space for nature alongside sustainable food production.

Harvey Davies from the Thrings Agriculture team, who is himself a farmer, said: “While increases in financial incentives and payment rates will be welcomed, there is still considerable uncertainty around the future of these schemes and they should proceed with caution.

“This means considering the impacts on not only their agricultural activities but also their ability to benefit from emerging private markets for environmental gain.

“Entering into a government scheme now may well limit their ability to enter into much more lucrative agreements to mitigate the environmental impacts of other organisations in the near future. Anyone who is unsure about the best route for them are recommended to take specialist legal advice.”

Having supported the rural sector for more than 300 years, the firm is proud to continue its longstanding commitment as a sponsor of the Oxford Farming Conference, which this year focuses on the cumulative biodiversity, climate, food and energy crises currently faced by the world. This topic reflects Thrings’ recent Agriculture Seminar, which focused on the impact of climate change on farming and the potential solutions and opportunities for the sector going forward.

The Thrings Agriculture team has been chosen by the NFU to act for its members in more counties than any other firm. Find out more about how we can support farmers, food producers and rural communities on our Information for Farmers page.

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