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DEFRA announces progressive updates to the Agricultural Transition Plan

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay has unveiled a suite of 50 new measures to enhance the Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes. Announced at the Oxford Farming Conference and building on the 2020 Agricultural Transition Plan, these initiatives are designed to bolster both the appeal and ease of participation for the farming community.

Cropland countryside. Credit: Pixabay

Cropland countryside. Credit: Pixabay

The key announcements are broadly focussed around improving both flexibility and attractiveness of the schemes.


Flexibility improvements

  • Introduction of a simplified application process.
  • Increased payment frequencies for better cash flow management.
  • Shorter, 3-year agreement terms to aid tenant farmers.


Attractiveness improvements:

  • A general 10% increase in ELM payments.
  • 50 new actions will be covered by payments, including practices such as agroforestry, no-till cultivation, and peatland protection.
  • New 'Premiums' on actions for which deliver substantial 'public goods', such as protecting lowland peat or connecting river and floodplain habitats
  • Substantial payment raises for upland farmers managing species-rich grasslands, from £182/ha to £646/ha.
  • Doubling Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier agreements by 2025.
  • Enhanced advisory services and peer-to-peer learning initiatives, including free business advice and veterinary support.
  • Initiatives for the preservation and management of traditional orchards.


Martin Lines, CEO of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, said:

We welcome this significant expansion of opportunities to deliver nature-friendly farming. It is a step forward in building the resilience and functionality of our landscapes in order to deliver improved food security


Will White, Sustainable Farming Coordinator at Sustain, said:

DEFRA's latest updates to the Agricultural Transition Plan are really positive, notably their adoption of systems based agricultural practices like agroforestry. We're especially pleased with the funding for creating and maintaining traditional orchards which provide multiple benefits in terms of food production, habitat, and carbon sequestration all in the same plot of land. This represents a significant and positive development from DEFRA.


You will find the updated Agricultural Transition plan here and you can read the Secretary of State's speech to the Oxford Farming Conference here.

Published Thursday 11 January 2024

Sustainable Farming Campaign: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.

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