On 4th January, the Secretary of State, Steve Barclay, attended the Oxford Farming Conference and gave a speech. He announced the biggest upgrade to farming schemes since the start of the agricultural transition.
In the speech he announced that:
DEFRA are paying more for actions in Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship - on average rates have increased by 10%. We will automatically apply any uplifts to existing agreements where applicable.
around 50 new actions are being added to DEFRA's Environmental Land Management schemes from summer 2024. This will mean farmers have more choice, with an offer for all farm types.
from this summer farmers will be able to apply for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier and Sustainable Farming Incentive actions together – through one application. Meaning, farmers will have access to the same actions and can have the same ambition, just with less paperwork.
DEFRA will consult on improving food labelling to tackle the unfairness created by unclear labelling - including better highlighting imports that do not meet UK welfare standards.
DEFRA will be setting out some principles and standards for how everyone across the group works with farmers, so they can build trust and ensure changes are made with farmers, not to them.
The government backs farmers and will continue to support the agriculture sector to do what they do best; produce food hand in hand with preserving the diversity and abundance of nature.
DEFRA have published the Agricultural Transition Plan update on GOV.UK. This document updates on their progress since the Agricultural Transition Plan in 2020 and sets out priorities and plans for the coming years.
In the document they set out their overall approach to these reforms and how food and the environment can and must go hand in hand. By supporting productivity, innovation and ensuring their schemes work with food production, DEFRA aim to reach their challenging environmental targets and maintain food production.