As the arable sector marks the start of harvest with the launch of the #YourHarvest campaign, growers will be showcasing their role in caring for the farmed landscape and their commitment to do even more through future environmental schemes.
Working with members, the NFU will be reaching out to MPs during the campaign to demonstrate the value of the arable sector and discuss how ambitious and accessible environmental schemes can help to maximise farming potential when it comes to sustainable food production.
It follows the release of the indicative payment rates for the arable soils standard for the 2022 Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).
NFU combinable crops board chairman Matt Culley stressed the need for a flexible and accessible system that will incentivise as many farmers as possible, whether they are already aligned with the SFI requirements or if they are coming from a different starting point.
Mr Culley said: “The #YourHarvest campaign is a celebration – marking a year’s worth of work and care to produce the nation’s key ingredients, whether it’s the wheat that goes into our birthday cakes, the oats in our morning porridge or the barley in our favourite beer. It’s also a time to celebrate all the arable sector has and continues to achieve in terms of environmental delivery.
“The SFI is a fantastic opportunity to build on this work, but the main challenge is in attracting as many farmers as possible as it is accessibility that will determine the success or failure of the scheme. A flexible approach is going to be key to ensure that the incentives offered are attractive to all, especially to those who would need to make significant changes to ensure their efforts are worthwhile.
“There’s already so much work going on, whether it’s making better use of cover crops or adopting min-tillage and no-tillage practices to improve soil health and encourage biodiversity, boosting carbon capture through careful management of hedgerows and arable soils, or producing crops for green energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Alongside producing great crops, all of these activities deliver multiple benefits for the environment and it’s important this is recognised and valued within the SFI too.
“We know that the value of what we produce, whether it’s the food on our plates, our contribution to a growing bioeconomy or our work to protect the environment so it can be enjoyed by all. So let’s use this #YourHarvest to reach out to MPs and demonstrate why investment in the UK arable sector means investment in the future of our nation, its people and its countryside.”
To mark #YourHarvest 2021 campaign, the NFU has produced new downloadable field signs for members which include signs for wheat and barley, among others. Members can download them here