I met with local members of the NFU last week to discuss agriculture in North Cornwall, ahead of the government’s latest announcement on farming. We also discussed many of the issues facing Bodmin Moor including drainage and access. I really enjoy these roundtable meetings with local groups, and it gives me a lot of insight into what our local farming economy needs. Food production is a key industry for North Cornwall; it is important that our farms are supported, and the sector is viable for future generations of farmers. I want to ensure that our farming community is protected and grows in the future. I also recently met with the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, so I welcome that she listened to feedback from Cornish MPs before setting out detailed plans for the nation’s farming sector this week. The focus on sustainable food production while protecting nature and enhancing the environment is something our local farmers share, so the accelerated rollout of the Sustainable Farming Incentive - a key part of the Government’s Environmental Land Management schemes is very welcome. These incentives will make food production more resilient and efficient over the longer term whilst contributing towards the UK’s environmental goals on carbon, biodiversity, water quality and net zero. Together this will safeguard the long-term prosperity of the farming industry and protect the environment for future generations. Six additional standards will be added to the Sustainable Farming Incentive this year, meaning farmers can receive payment for actions on their land including nutrient management. They build on the three existing standards to improve soil health and moorlands introduced in 2022 – which nearly 1,900 farmers already have in agreements.
The Government has also detailed what farmers will be paid to deliver through an enhanced version of the Countryside Stewardship scheme, which will see around 30 additional actions available to farmers by the end of 2024. The Sustainable Farming Incentive has been made as straightforward as possible to apply online with farmers giving positive feedback over the simplicity and speed of the application. The 2023 offer has been made as flexible and accessible as possible to enable farmers to get started in the scheme and start to deliver the outcomes for their business and the environment. These improvements are based on learnings from extensive pilots and feedback to make it simpler, clearer and more workable for farmers. Over time, it will continue to evolve so that it supports and incentivises farmers to deliver the right combinations of actions, at the right scale, in the right places and in a joined-up way with their neighbours. This will be essential for us to make the required progress towards our environment and climate targets alongside food production.