The government has introduced new legislation that will reward farmers for protecting the environment, tackling climate change and improving animal welfare.
The Agriculture Bill aims to “properly support” farmers to farm more innovatively and will provide incentives for “public goods” such as better air and water quality, higher animal welfare standards, improved access to the countryside or measures to reduce flooding.
The government says this will contribute towards the UK’s commitment for net zero emissions by 2050 while helping boost the productivity of farmers.
Farmers currently receive Direct Payments under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with the money distributed mainly on the basis of the size of the farm.
The changes will be phased out over an agricultural transition period, which is due to start in 2021 and run for seven years.
This is expected to help allow farmers new to environmental work or hoping to do more than what is currently done enough time to understand how new schemes can best work for their farm.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Our landmark Agriculture Bill will transform British farming, enabling a balance between food production and the environment which will safeguard our countryside and farming communities for the future.
“This is one of the most important environmental reforms for many years, rewarding farmers for the work they do to safeguard our environment and helping us meet crucial goals on climate change and protecting nature and biodiversity.”