We know educational access payments can make an enormous difference to our farmer hosts and make it possible for children, many of whom would not otherwise have access to the countryside, to visit a real working farm. There has been so much uncertainty surrounding ELM that we have had serious concerns that educational access payments might not be included in any future payment scheme.

We were therefore delighted that, in a recent ELMs progress update to EFRA, Janet Hughes, Future Farming and Countryside Programme Director at Defra, confirmed funding for educational access was “expected to continue going forward.”

And Mark Spencer, Minister of State for Food in the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, stressed the importance of educating the next generation saying: 

“As a farmer, making sure the next generation understands how their food is produced is really important. One of the criticisms that can be levelled at farmers is that we’ve lost that connectivity with our consumers.” 

We are now pressing Defra for details of how this support will be implemented.  

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey recently confirmed that the ELMs review is complete, and the government is moving ahead with the transition to replace the European Union’s common agricultural policy (CAP). Ms Coffey said that ELMs will now comprise three payment schemes:

  • The sustainable-farming incentive focuses on soil health and reducing the use of "inputs" such as fertilisers and pesticides
  • The landscape-recovery scheme will pay landowners for ambitious large-scale "rewilding" projects 
  • An adapted version of the existing countryside-stewardship scheme, which Ms Coffey called "countryside stewardship plus", will replace the planned local nature-recovery scheme

More details are due to be announced in the new year. In the meantime, please share your stories of how educational access payments make a difference to you and the children who visit your farm by emailing: nbell@countrytrust.org.uk