Dr Peter Gittins authors opinion piece on supporting UK farmers towards net-zero agriculture
Written in association with Dr Deema Refai, the piece discusses the Leeds research project ‘Supporting UK farmers transitioning towards ELMs & Net-Zero agriculture’.
The project looks at complexities faced by farmers in England during their transition away from the basic payment scheme (BPS) - the largest rural payment scheme providing financial support to the farming industry.
Dr Gittins and Dr Refai writes about the reliance of many average-sized farmers on these subsidy payments, highlighting how in some instances they can comprise “90% of a farmer’s annual business profit”. He goes on to say how the removal of subsidies would cause farmers to “make a net loss” and could even lead to “business collapse for some”.
As farmers face the rollout of the new environmental land management schemes (ELMs), Dr Gittins explains how many farmers have expressed concerns regarding their complexity in comparison to the BPS system.
Furthermore, Dr Gittins notes how the broader implications of net-zero brings many uncertainties for farmers:
What does this national commitment truly entail for farmers, and how will it affect them at the farm level? This is where farmers require clear guidance from rural policymakers.
Concluding his piece, Dr Gittins calls for “inclusive and flexible schemes that reward diverse farming practices, preserve social and cultural values, and provide financial stability”.