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Farming Future – Growing Zero Carbon Capture

Farming for food and, or the environment in the foreseeable future is going to yield huge challenges and opportunities for the agricultural sector.

Professionals, from the legal and financial world, attending Balfours Xtra, recently (Nov 26) heard how the government’s 25 year Environmental Land Management System, ELMS, is targeted to provide public money for public goods, with one flexible contract, one set of guidance and mass uptake.

However Balfours partner, Andrew Liddiment, speaking at the professionals briefing, says that many of the targets within ELMS will leave farming enterprises with greatly reduced incomes. “Modelling suggests net farm profits, in some sectors, may reduce by 50% + in ELMS as opposed to Basic Farm Payment.”

He continues: “ELMS tests and trials commenced in 2018 and by 2021 some 1250 pilot schemes are anticipated, with the system fully operational and to take over a phased out BPS by 2028. These are unrealistic targets in the current political climate and an administrative burden. As is the idea that there would be 82,000 agreements by 2028, knowing that only 18,000 stewardship agreements are in place under the current environmental schemes! 

“Ambitions within ELMS include assisting in the aim of net zero carbon by 2050. To achieve the aim tree cover, currently at 13%, will increase to 19% equating to an average of 50,000 hectares per annum set to forestry, plus a further five to ten per cent of land switching to agro forestry.  It will be marginal ground currently used by livestock farmers for beef and sheep that will be targeted to achieve the ELMS target.”

He said that arable and livestock sectors will be worst off averaging 40 to 50% less income, while dairy and those farming in Less Favoured Areas, will fair slightly better, on present scheme models. Those in the top quartile of profitability will be best equipped to survive - and progress new opportunities.”

He concluded that a carbon net zero UK has yet to address the practical issues of infrastructure and networks. “There will need to be a mass update of power supplies to deliver the power required, including fast charging networks for cars – this will surely create opportunities not only for custodians of the land, but also their agents and professional providers.”

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