MEETING farmers, finding out their comments and concerns and highlighting the second round of a scheme to help farmers protect the English landscape were on the agenda for the Farming Minister on his visit to the Devon County Show today, Thursday.

Mark Spencer held a round table meeting with representatives from the farming community, the NFU, Dartmoor National Park and other representatives.

He told Tindle News Editor Alan Quick: 'I am really please and privileged to be here at the Devon County Show.

'I am here to speak to farmers and to hear first hand what they want to tell me.

'I have toured the cattle lines, sheep judging, been to the pigs section and just spoken with farmers from Exmoor and Dartmoor.'

He went on to say farmers and landowners would receive funding and support for projects to create new habitats for wildlife, help protected sites and boost efforts to reach net zero, alongside sustainable food production.

 Building on the success of the first round of the scheme launched last year, farmers and land managers will be able to bid for a share of £15 million initial development funding, with significantly more investment in the years to come as projects move from development to delivery, he added.

He said this would help them to collaborate and work in partnership to protect and enhance landscapes in England, delivering environmental benefits on a massive scale while supporting farmers to deliver their world-renowned produce. 

The second round of the scheme will support up to 25 projects which will be administered by Natural England and the Environment Agency – the lead delivery partners for the scheme. The projects will be selected based on their environmental and social impact, value for money and suitability for the scheme.

In addition, for the first time, we have introduced a food production criterion which will be used to ensure prospective projects take food production into consideration and mitigate any negative impacts on this where possible.  

It will focus on projects of at least 500 hectares which could include landscape scale projects creating and enhancing woodland including temperate rainforest, peatland, nature reserves and protected sites such as ancient woodlands, wetlands and salt marshes.  

Funding for Landscape Recovery will be provided from the government’s £2.4 billion annual investment into the farming sector, which is guaranteed for the rest of this Parliament.