The Soil Association has warned that any watering down of the Government’s flagship Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) would be a “betrayal of nature, farmers and public health”.
Reports have circulated since Boris Johnson left office that the Government is planning down to downgrade, possibly even scrap, the ELMS initiative. An announcement on the future of the scheme is expected from Defra in early December.
The Soil Association is urging government to “push forward with more, not less, ambition for the schemes”.
The organic charity is calling for government to urgently provide reassurance that payments for organic farmers will continue, alongside support for a revolutionary shift to more resilient, nature-friendly farming across the UK.
Soil Association head of farming Policy Gareth Morgan said: “Any U-turn by this government on its commitment to sustainable food and farming would be an alarming betrayal of nature, farmers and public health. The environmental promises our new Prime Minister is making from the world stage at COP27 will ring hollow if his government waters down plans to reward farmers for protecting the environment. This policy is crucial at a time when our food system is in crisis – fertiliser, feed and energy costs for farmers are skyrocketing, wildlife populations are in freefall and climate change is escalating at an unprecedented rate.
“Any U-turn by this government on its commitment to sustainable food and farming would be an alarming betrayal of nature, farmers and public health”
“But seven years on from the Brexit vote we have no substantive package in sight to support the most evidence-based solution – a transition to resilient, agroecological farming. It is also now clear from George Eustice that trade deals undermining British farmers and our environment are being rushed through. We urgently need transformative change, but we are moving backwards.
“As a matter of urgency, we need a renewed commitment to long term support for organic farmers in recognition of the benefits they deliver for nature. Government must also invest in a revolutionary shift to nature-friendly, agroecological farming and support farmers to rebuild biodiversity and soil health across their farms alongside producing nutritious food.”