RSPB's Hope farm, at the time of the wheat harvest, Knapwell, Cambridgeshire

Agri-environment schemes

Agri-environment schemes compensate farmers for the costs of carrying out wildlife-friendly management on their farms.

About the schemes

The funds come from a combination of national Government money, and EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget.

Most CAP money is awarded as direct support payments, but some is used to deliver rural development measures, including agri-environment schemes.

A healthy countryside provides wildlife, helps maintain clean water supplies, stores carbon, and provides access to the natural world for everyone. But farmers don’t get paid by the market for providing these services to society. 

Agri-environment schemes allow farmers to receive payments for managing their land for these highly valued benefits.  Farming policy therefore plays a vital role in shaping our countryside. It is essential that farmers are supported for providing benefits which the rest of the society needs and wants. 

Each country of the UK has its own programme of agri-environment schemes. Reform of the CAP often leads to the design of new schemes, which mean new and old schemes will run concurrently for a number of years until existing contracts with farmers end.