UK farming really does offer so much, and Farming Minister Victoria Prentis highlights this, with food production being the tip of the iceberg.
When people think about our farmers, they will first and foremost think about all the delicious produce that they grow and nurture, filling our shelves and boosting the reputation of our nation around the world.
However, those of us within the industry know that our farmers and growers do even more.
We have dedicated farmers in this country who work tirelessly to produce British food that is renowned worldwide for its high standards and quality. Our farmers also play a critical role in looking after our beautiful countryside, driving up our environmental and animal welfare standards and providing exciting and rewarding career opportunities for our young people.
As Farming Minister and someone who has been involved in farming for my entire life, I am delighted to support Farmers Guardian’s #FarmingCAN campaign and shine a light on all of the invaluable work that our farmers do within our communities.
My family have a mainly arable farm near Banbury, and I have brought up my own children to understand the pattern of the farming year and the importance of caring for our countryside. Championing the crucial role that our farmers play is so important to me, because I know first-hand how hard they work to care for our land and wildlife.
This is an exciting time for British farming and indeed the time for our farmers to step into the spotlight. We have left the Common Agricultural Policy and started our seven-year agricultural transition period, which will enact the most significant change to farming and land management in half a century.
As a nation, we know that more needs to be done to reach our target of net zero by 2050 and the goals within our 25 Year Environment Plan. Our farmers are a key part of that effort. Our new farming policy will make sure that we make the most of the once-in-a-generation opportunity that we now have before us to develop our own agricultural policy that really works for our farmers and our environment.
To have the greatest chance of success, it is essential that our approach to this change is collaborative. That is why future schemes will be designed and trialled in partnership with the people who own and farm our land. To date, there has been approximately 3,000 farmers involved in the design of our future schemes through our tests and trials, and there are many more opportunities to get involved coming up.
Just last month, we invited farmers to take their first step towards a greener future by expressing their interest in participating in the first phase of piloting of the Sustainable Farming Incentive. Successful applicants will commence their agreements in October this year. We will also be opening up expressions of interest for the Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes later this year, which will allow farmers the chance to tell us how best to support them to create and look after habitats for our precious wildlife and restore our peatlands and woodlands.
I firmly believe that there is no limit to what our farmers can achieve, especially when they join forces to protect their local landscapes, and this government will be there every step of the way to provide the support they need to be able to do this alongside feeding the nation.