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The Environmental Land Management scheme

The UK has been part of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) for more than 40 years with CAP providing the framework for financial support to farmers and funding to rural development schemes.  Farmers in England received over £1.8 billion in 2019-20 in direct payment subsidies based mainly on the amount of land farmed.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is introducing the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM) in late 2021 to replace CAP. It will focus on improving the environment by paying farmers for certain environmental benefits, instead of offering payments based on the amount of land farmed. The ELM scheme will also influence the extent to which government can achieve wider environmental and climate change objectives.  

The report examines whether Defra is designing ELM to meet the objectives the government has set. It will look at whether Defra:

  • has a clear set of objectives for ELM, which align to its strategic policy objectives, and is able to measure progress against them;
  • is managing ELM in accordance with good practice and risks are well managed; and
  • is engaging effectively with stakeholders.

This builds on the NAO’s previous work on the future of farming in England, as well as its reports into achieving government’s long-term environmental goals and achieving net zero.