The Ramblers’ position on changes to farming policy in England and Wales
Changes to farming policy are a great opportunity to strengthen our connection to the natural world
Agricultural reform is a once in a generation opportunity to reshape the countryside in England and Wales for the better. We want these changes to farming policy to help strengthen our connection to the natural world, protect and improve our paths, and enable everyone to walk in the countryside.
In England, the UK Government’s Agriculture Act (2020) established the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM).
In Wales, the Welsh Government’s forthcoming Agriculture Bill will create the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).
Both these new systems of public funding are based on the idea that taxpayer funding for farmers should deliver clear benefits for the public. This includes better access to the countryside.
What we have achieved so far
UK Government ministers have pledged that funding for improved public access to the countryside would be included as one of the options available to farmers in ELM. However, despite the promises, as more and more details of the new regime have emerged there are still no clear proposals on what it means for access.
In Wales, Welsh Government have committed to access being a key part of the new Sustainable Farming scheme and we are sharing our experience and knowledge with government officials to help them design the scheme to deliver improved access to the countryside.
What we want to see in the future
We want to ensure the public will benefit from billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money that will shape the countryside for generations.
In England Ministers should keep their promises to connect everyone with nature and recognise that ELM is key to achieving this in advance of its full roll-out in 2024.
The Welsh Government need to continue to work with us to shape the SFS for maximum benefits for paths, access and nature.
Both ELM in England and SFS in Wales can improve access to nature for everyone by:
Improving existing rights of way so that more people can make use of the access already available
Creating new access opportunities where there are gaps in the existing path network.
The Ramblers’ position on changes to environmental policy in England, and how these can improve access to nature