Skip to main content

Overview: how farming is changing

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Future Farming Programme

This page gives an overview of the changes to farming in England.

It's quite long. You can jump directly to:

Environmental land management schemes

We're introducing 3 new schemes that will pay farmers to carry out environmental land management.

They are:

  • Sustainable Farming Incentive
  • Local Nature Recovery
  • Landscape Recovery

Sustainable Farming Incentive

The Sustainable Farming Incentive will reward farmers for producing public goods on their land. It will pay for actions that can have benefits anywhere in the country.

Who is eligible

To start with it will be open to all Basic Payment Scheme claimants, and later we’ll extend eligibility to include other farmers.

To get paid, you will have to meet standards or take actions on your farm to benefit the environment, climate or animal welfare.

You’ll still get Basic Payment Scheme funding, but they will reduce as part of the Agricultural Transition Plan.

How it'll work

You'll get paid to carry out a set of actions to:

  • reduce levels of sediment, nutrients and chemical pollution in water
  • reduce flooding, erosion and run-off
  • decrease greenhouse gas emissions
  • improve carbon storage, water storage and biodiversity


Piloting of Sustainable Farming Incentive is underway. The early rollout of the scheme will begin in 2022. We published further details of this in November 2021Read more about the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot.

The scheme will begin piloting around 10 projects in 2022.

Local Nature Recovery

Local Nature Recovery is a scheme that pays for locally-specific actions to benefit the environment and climate.

Who is eligible

A wide range of farmers and land managers

How it'll work

The scheme will pay for actions that support local nature recovery and deliver local environmental priorities. This will include:

  • creating or managing and restoring natural habitats
  • natural flood management
  • rights of way navigation and recreation infrastructure
  • education infrastructure, events and services


We plan to start a phased rollout of the Local Nature Recovery scheme from 2023.


Landscape Recovery

Who is eligible

The scheme is for farmers and land managers in England.

How it'll work

The scheme will support landscape and ecosystem recovery through long-term projects, such as:

  • restoring wilder landscapes in places where it’s appropriate
  • large-scale woodland creation and restoration
  • peatland and salt marsh restoration


The scheme will begin piloting around 10 projects in 2022, and launch in 2024.

Other environmental land management schemes and programmes

Farming in Protected Landscapes

Farming in Protected Landscapes is a programme of funding for one-off projects. It will support farmers and land managers to carry out projects that:

  • support nature recovery
  • mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and its cultural heritage
  • support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses

Who is eligible

It's open to all farmers and land managers within an Area Of Natural Beauty or National Parks in England, or the Norfolk Broads. It could also support activity on other land, where a project will benefit a protected landscape or its body’s objectives or partnership initiatives.


The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme will be open for applications from July 2021. You can find out more about Farming in Protected Landscapes on GOV.UK. 


England Woodland Creation Offer

Administered by the Forestry Commission, the England Woodland Creation Offer supports the creation of new woodland, including through natural colonisation, on areas as small as 1 hectare.

This is for owner-occupiers, tenants, landlords and licensors who have full management control of the land in the application (or consent from those who do).

Apply for the England Woodland Creation Offer.


Tree Health Scheme

For felling and the treatment of diseased trees in certain situations and restocking following felling.

Who is eligible

The scheme is for:

  • arable farmers or land managers
  • livestock farmers or managers
  • forests or woodland managers
  • growers
You need to have trees with an eligible tree health issue.


A pilot for Tree Health scheme launched in August 2021. The pilot will trial new elements of a future scheme to support land managers and farmers in taking action against harmful tree pests and diseases. The pilot will offer different support to the existing Countryside Stewardship Woodland Tree Health Grants which will end in 2024.


Animal Health and Welfare Pathway

The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway provides funding to help farmers produce healthier animals to the highest standards of welfare. Some of the pathway will be supported through Sustainable Farming Incentive.

The Annual Health and Welfare Review is the first part of the Pathway to launch. The review is a fully-funded vet visit which farmers will receive each year of the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway. It will launch in 2022.

Who is eligible

The scheme is for farmers or managers of livestock.


Applications will open in 2022.


Slurry Investment (delivered through the Farming Investment Fund)

As part of an expanded Farming Investment Fund, we will offer a new theme for slurry infrastructure. Farmers will be able to apply for grants to support investment in their slurry systems including for slurry stores and store covers. This will help farmers make the best use of slurry’s organic nutrients, reduce water pollution and cut ammonia emissions.

Who is eligible

The scheme will be aimed at livestock farmers initially, though may be expanded in future rounds. We expect the scheme will focus initially on locations where environmental impact of slurry is greatest.


Applications will open in Autumn 2022.


Prosperity and productivity funding

Future Farming Resilience Fund

The Farming Resilience Fund is designed to offer more support to more farmers and land managers to help them plan for the future. We'll provide business advice and support services until 2024.

Who is eligible

Any farmer or land manager currently in receipt of direct payments.


You can get in touch with a provider now.

The support offered to farmers is available in phases. We previously said that we would run the scale-up phase from April 2022, but we are now looking at a revised go-live date and will let you know when further information is available.

Read more about:


Farming Investment Fund

We're offering funding for equipment, technology, and infrastructure that improves farm productivity and benefits the environment.

You can get a grant for a part of the total cost of investment. This could include costs like equipment and technology, or on-farm water storage

Learn more about the Farming Investment Fund. 


The Farming Investment Fund is open.

People are able to apply for grants for both smaller investments  (The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund) and for larger investments (The Farming Transformation Fund).

The Farming Transformation Fund Water Management grant online checker closed on 12 January 2022.

At the end of last year, we published a manual on the Improving Farm Productivity grant, which is part of the Farming Transformation Fund.  It is now open for applications. 


Innovation, research and development

The Farming Innovation Programme

The Farming Innovation Programme is made up of 3 Funds.

  • The Industry-led Research and Development Partnerships Fund 
  • The Farming Futures Research and Development Fund (competitions open early 2022) 
  • The Projects to Accelerate Adoption Fund (competitions open later in 2022) 

The Industry-led Research and Development Partnerships Fund is the first of 3 funds to launch. 

It comprises 4 projects:

  • Research Starter Projects (open for applications now)
  • Feasibility Projects (open for applications now)
  • Small Research and Development Partnership Projects (open for applications now)
  • Large Research and Development Partnership Projects  (open for applications in 2022)

Apply using the Farming Innovation website.

Learn more about the projects in the Industry-led Research and Development Partnerships fund.


Learn more about how we're encouraging innovation in farming.

New Entrant Support Scheme

The New Entrant Support scheme aims to encourage new starters into farming.

Who is eligible

Eligibility for this scheme will be developed in partnership with stakeholders.


Applications will open in 2022.

Lump sum exit scheme

In 2022, we plan to introduce an exit scheme to help farmers in England leave farming if they wish to. It will offer a lump sum in place of any further Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments and delinked payments.

In May, we invited people to let us know their thoughts on how the lump sum exit scheme could run.

The scheme rules will be set once the consultation results have been analysed.

Plans for existing schemes

Basic Payment Scheme

The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is available to farmers with entitlements and eligible land

What will happen

We plan to phase out Direct Payments in England from 2021 to 2027. This means we'll make progressive reductions to BPS payments from 2021, and then to delinked payments when these replace BPS. Find out more about how progressive reductions work.

In 2024, we plan to replace BPS with ‘delinked’ payments. When we do so, it will be unnecessary to farm the land to receive the payments until the point that they end.

We are consulting farmers on the rules for delinked payments. Share your thoughts by replying to our consultation by 11 August 2021.

Countryside Stewardship agreements and Capital Grants

What will happen

Countryside Stewardship will continue to be open to new applications until 2023 (for agreements starting in 2024). This includes 4 Wildlife Offers available for Arable, Mixed, Upland and Lowland Grassland farms.

The Mid Tier offers revenue payments and grants to protect and enhance the natural environment, in particular the diversity of wildlife and water quality.

The Higher Tier is for more environmentally significant sites, commons and woodlands.

A range of Capital Grants are also available to support improved water and air quality and for hedgerows and boundaries, and for woodland management plans and tree health.

Who is eligible

This is for:

  • arable farmers or land managers
  • livestock farmers or managers
  • forests or woodland managers
  • growers

Existing grants and payments

You can apply for:


Talk to us

We'll be at events all over the country. Look out for the Future Farming stand.

Date Event
5-7 January 2022 Oxford Real Farming Conference


11-12 January LAMMA


02 February DairyTech


22-23 February


NFU Annual Conference


4-5 February IAgSA National Conference


Get involved

Co-design is an approach that actively involves users and stakeholders from the beginning of a project, right through to roll-out.

It means we collaborate with everyone who has an interest to solve real problems with them. We actively seek their input and feedback, based on their lived experience, as we iterate and improve services.

We might ask you to:

  • attend a workshop
  • try out some of our new webpages
  • talk to us about your experiences with Defra and funding schemes
  • complete an online survey or task
  • answer questions by email

Learn more about co-design or email to take part.


Get updates

For the latest news and updates:

Subscribe to the Future Farming blog

Subscribe to Defra's e-alert


Learn more

You can read more about our future farming plans in the following publications:

The Agricultural Transition Plan

The Agricultural Transition Plan sets out the changes we are going to make to agricultural policy in England from 1 January 2021. It also covers what these changes will mean for farmers and land managers.

Agricultural Transition Plan: June 2021 progress update

The June 2021 progress update also covers further details of the early roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive ahead of the scheme opening in Spring 2022. This includes eligibility and how farmers can be rewarded through the scheme.

Farming is Changing

The Farming is Changing document sets out the latest information on farming policy in England from 1 January 2021. It will be regularly updated.

Farming is Changing leaflet

The Farming is Changing leaflet  provides an overview of the latest information on farming policies and schemes.

The Trade and Agriculture Commission

The Trade and Agriculture Commission will advise the government on how to make sure UK farmers do not face unfair competition nor have their high animal welfare and production standards undermined. It will also find new export opportunities for the UK agricultural industry – in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises.


Is this page useful? Leave a comment below.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Olia posted on

    Thank you for this overview!
    I would like to say that the future of agriculture is connected to the new technologies. Our GBKSOFT development company noticed the demand for smart agriculture apps integrated with AI, IoT or drones, so I think software development will play a great role for agro companies.

  2. Comment by Hugh Mason posted on

    The fact that there is political change to English agriculture has to be accepted. What is ignored, however, is that most of the world’s agriculture is supported financially one way or another (look at what is happening to US agriculture, currently). This is for, presumably, good political reason. A government’s first duty is to protect its people from hurt and hunger – surely? People certainly riot when there is no food. The English farmer is having his support withdrawn very quickly – most English farmers can only generate income once a year. The political pledge that the English farmer would be no worse off than under CAP is falling apart. The UK government has done the easy bit, of taking money away. It appears not to know what to replace the support with. If it does not see agriculture as a necessity it should at least have the decency to say so and say so quite clearly. If it has detail for future funding, the government does not wish to share this with those that will be involved – this makes planning virtually impossible. This situation is made worse as many schemes (environmental or otherwise) are being closed down. Retaining them may well have helped bridged the gap, whilst meeting “public money for public goods”

    It has now been much quoted that the government is allowing time for the English farmer to improve his/her productivity to compete with imports from abroad. Of those that make this statement it has to be asked “what on earth do you think a farmer does most of his day?”. At this moment in time the English farmer has more knowledge than he/she has ever had and yet, productivity (at least in the part of English agriculture I am involved in) is going backwards. Look at any long chart you want. It can be said that government bureaucrats, today, have more involvement in English farming than they’ve ever had. It is political nonsense to suggest that government is going to “set farmers free” whilst stating that it will introduce new rules for the activity – it has to be reasoned there are rules. The Conservative Party has, in the past, made much of “gold plating” EU rules. Is it seriously suggested that the government is going to have a lesser role in the future? That is certainly not the direction of travel of the present government with regards its policies across the country. Not yet commented much on but, English farmers will be reporting some of the worst financial results in living memory over the next 18 months or so. When the UK banks see this they will start to apply pressure for loan repayment/asset sales. This will suppress values and round in the circle we will go. If interest rates rise, we will just go round more quickly. This will be during the period that the government is removing financial support. Farmers have the highest suicide rate of any profession. As the support disappears it will be to the sound of shotguns going off. It will be a “levelling up” of sorts though, I suppose. Politically perhaps the government thinks it does not have to take English agriculture with it.As it currently seems to me, this government is taking some 40% of English agriculture to bankruptcy and the balance, if agriculture is their prime source of income, will not be happy. It perhaps will be likened to what happened to the coal industry. The difference is that the coal miners at least had a community to help them through that period. English farmers, in the main, do not.

    • Replies to Hugh Mason>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hello Hugh,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. You're right, leaving the EU represents a significant change, but it also gives us the opportunity to do things differently and, we think, better.

      Our goal is to support our famers to be profitable, to produce healthy food and to do so in a way that makes a positive impact on our environment. To achieve this, we're actively rewarding farmers for the environmentally sustainable actions they take. I hope this page goes some way to demonstrate that agri-environment schemes aren't vanishing. We have three coming in and we’re managing the transition from existing schemes to new schemes in a way that works for everyone.

      Farming is tough and uncertainty is stressful, so both my policy and communications colleagues are working hard to make sure that we tell farmers what they need to do and when - here on the blog, on GOV.UK, in the press, at events and through our networks.

      Through things like the Farming Resilience Fund, we're supporting farmers with their business planning so that the seven-year period of transition is manageable. For those who wish to leave farming, we're offering a lump sum payment. We're also working on attracting new entrants into the sector.

      One of the reasons we created this blog was to work in the open and to give people a chance to comment and get involved. You'll see we talk a lot about 'co-design' for the same reason. It is so important that farmers, land managers, foresters, agronomists (in fact anyone affected) is involved in the design of schemes and policies. They are the experts. They experience the day-to-day reality of farming. It must work for them. If you have any thoughts on how we can do things better, drop me a line. If you'd like to get involved in our co-design work, my colleagues really would love to hear from you.

      Best wishes and thanks again for visiting,

  3. Comment by Michael posted on

    New Entrant Support Scheme - looking forward to this.

  4. Comment by Lucinda posted on

    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute. I make the following points from a landscape officer's perspective:-

    1. incentivise sustainable soils-management on all land (not just peat) to retain and improve carbon-capture capacity, protect soil ecology & soil structure. (This should also help to de-motivate inappropriate use of soils, and loss of soils such as through waste-tipping and surface-sealing)

    2.incentivise space for new field trees & hedge-systems (hedge-system = trees+shrubs+ditch+bank+verges) - include smaller-machinery incentives to prevent boundary-loss, help negate need for gate-widening and to reduce extent of hardstandings (this could include reward for machinery-repair rather than replacement and should be done in liaison with machinery manufacturers to ensure efficient ‘field-gate-sized’ modern equipment is available)

    3. incentivise rainwater-harvesting systems and new sustainable drainage components (e.g. swales, naturalised detention basins & permanent ponds), particularly the re-instatement of historic seasonal or permanent ponds

    4.Include payments for green roofs & living walls for all existing & new agricultural buildings and include non-agricultural but significant landscape buildings, such as equestrian buildings, which are becoming ever-more prevalent in the landscape

    • Replies to Lucinda>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Lucinda,

      I'm grateful that you took the time to share your thoughts - thank you. I've sent your comment to my co-design colleagues. They'll make sure your points reach the right policy teams.

      Perhaps you might like to contribute further thoughts through a workshop or discussion? If so, email We'd love to learn more from your insight.

      Best wishes,

  5. Comment by BEN ROWLINSON posted on

    Unfortunately areas round my area that have been allowed to revert to nature under the guise of conservation have become an impenetrable mass of nettles ,docks and brambles blocking footpaths and bridleways.
    Will not be surprised when the whole country becomes like this and all food has to be imported with it's attendant food miles because of our own farmers have been put out of business because of some of these pittance paying schemes giving them no chance of competing with other countries imports.

    • Replies to BEN ROWLINSON>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Our goal is to support famers to be profitable, to produce healthy food and to do so in a way that makes a positive impact on our environment.

      Through our environmental land management schemes, government will incentivise farmers and other land managers to deliver public goods. There are 6 public goods and public access is an important part of the last public good on that list: enhanced engagement with the environment. I'll share the Agricultural Transition Plan at the bottom of this comment - it contains more detail.

      Getting anything right - whether it's payment rates or access - relies on government listening to (and working with) farmers, land managers and other stakeholders. Our co-design approach is one of the ways we're doing that. If you'd like to share your thoughts, we really would be grateful for them. Just email

      Best wishes,


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.