‘Payment by Results’ farm support scheme trial in Suffolk and Norfolk set to be extended

A wild flower field margin. Picture: GWCT

A wild flower field margin. Picture: GWCT - Credit: Archant

A ‘payments by results’ farm support scheme being trialled in Suffolk and Norfolk, and which could provide a blueprint for funding post-Brexit, is set to be extended.

The Payment by Results (PBR) pilot project, which fits environment secretary Michael Gove’s ‘public money for public goods’ plan for future UK farm policy, had been due to conclude at the end of this year, but a £540,000 government boost means the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) now has the funds to enable participating farmers to deliver environmental benefits for an additional two years.

The project is paying participating farmers in two areas - Suffolk and Norfolk in the East of England and Wensleydale in Yorkshire - for work specifically tailored to the environmental needs of their area.

In Suffolk and Norfolk, farmers are benefiting from planting nectar plots for bees and other pollinators, while those in Wensleydale are focused on managing species-rich meadows.

The government has carried out a public consultation on future farming policy in which set out plans to move towards a system where farmers are paid according to the public goods they provide. The aim is to carry out further trials to find a model where “profitable farm businesses and environmental land management can co-exist and complement one another”.

Mr Gove described the European Union’s (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agri-environment schemes as “overly bureaucratic and inflexible” and claimed this had impeded innovation.

“The Payment by Results pilot marks a shift in how we think about rewarding farmers for their work. This approach signals how we see the future of farm payments, where farmers deliver public goods for the environment which we all enjoy,” he said.

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“I am delighted to extend this scheme and look forward to seeing further evidence of its success as we plan for our future outside the EU.”

The trial is focused on training and guidance for farmers so they can create their own management plan for their land. Arable farmers in Suffolk and Norfolk have been paid for managing plots that provide winter food for farmland birds during the ‘hungry gap’ and flower-rich foraging habitat for pollinators.