What About Food? English Farmers Offered More Money to Adopt Green Agenda

Lohmann Brown chickens stick their head out from a nesting box in a barn at Meadow Haven F
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Farmers are to be offered even more money by the government to adopt green agenda policies, the British government’s food department has announced.

Britain’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced that it will soon be increasing the amount of money they are paying farmers in England who are willing to adopt its green agenda policies, such as hedgerow creation and habitat management.

It comes as many in the industry struggle to pay their bills, with one farmers’ organisation warning that the United Kingdom runs the risk of “sleepwalking” into a food supply crisis as many drop out of the industry.

This does not appear to have been the main focus of the British government, however, with significant resources instead having been dedicated to paying food producers to implement environmental reforms.

Now, according to a DEFRA press release, farmers involved in supporting the government’s environmental plans will soon receive more money, with many in the sector soon to be offered an additional £1,000 (~$1,200) a year for “taking nature-friendly action through the Sustainable Farming Incentive”.

More money will also be available for farmers with a Countryside Stewardship agreement, with this group due to see a 10 per cent increase in their revenue rates for their work on the likes of “habitat management”.

DEFRA is also set to significantly hike the amount of money it is willing to give one-off green projects, with the department saying average payments will see an increase of 48 per cent.

“My challenge to our great industry is simple — this year, take another look at the Environmental Land Management schemes and think about what options and grants will help support your farm,” Britain’s Farming Minister, Mark Spencer, reportedly said in relation to the announcement.

“As custodians of more than 70 per cent of our countryside, the nation is relying on its farmers to protect our landscapes as well as produce the high-quality food we are known for, and we are increasing payment rates to ensure farmers are not out of pocket for doing the right thing by the environment,” he added.

While some farmers have reportedly welcomed the additional streams of income, the British government’s significant focus on green agenda policies within the farming sector is likely to raise eyebrows for many within the industry who are struggling to stay afloat.

For instance, according to a report by The Telegraph, a huge number of food producers are turning their back on farming, with one former supermarket buying manager, Ged Futter, saying that many are being forced to close up shop as a result of the rising costs of doing business.

“Farmers are under massive pressure and actually what they’re doing if they can’t get the prices they need, they are actively coming out of the sector,” Ged Futter, who now works as a retail analyst, reportedly said.

“That is the biggest worry that we’ve got at the moment – how many farmers are leaving the sector, whether it’s eggs, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers – in big parts of where we get our food from there are farmers leaving every single week,” he continued, adding that “things will only get better if farmers and producers can get the prices they need”.

Meanwhile, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has warned that Britain is “sleepwalking” into a food supply crisis as a result of the increasing costs of fuel, feed, and fertiliser, driven in part by the sanctions war with Russia over Ukraine.

“At the moment you have got all of the cost, all of the risk sitting on the primary producer,” the union’s president, Minette Batters, reportedly said, urging more work to be done to spread increased costs throughout the supply chain.

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