ENVIRONMENT Secretary George Eustice set out his vision for farming pointing out the importance of the food industry to the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

He outlined opportunities to enhance profitable agricultural production and increase food security, alongside delivering on environmental priorities to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change.

Speaking at the Country Land and Business Association conference, he said: “There is a food manufacturer in every parliamentary constituency in the UK – except Westminster. These manufacturers provide employment opportunities in areas where there might otherwise be deprivation. They offer opportunities to apprentices; they invest in research and development and they give local areas a sense of pride and identity.”

Emphasising the role of domestic food production in food security, he highlighted the fact that the sectors we have greatest self-sufficiency in food production tend to be those that have not traditionally been subsidised and he highlighted how encouraging techniques such as regenerative agriculture can reduce costs and improve profit margins as well as helping the environment.

Mr Eustice also shared further details of the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the first of the new environmental land management schemes, which will be rolled out next year. Farmers will receive payment for taking actions which generate environmental benefits, such as improving grasslands or soils. With nearly 1,000 farmers signed up to the pilot, the new scheme will now be rolled out to farmers who farm more than five hectares of land and are eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme next year.

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “While it is good to finally have some more clarity on the scheme offering, ultimately much more detail is needed for farm businesses to make informed decisions.”