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Countryside improvements fund ‘could be raided’

Wheat field,

Image caption

In the UK, wheat is the largest arable crop

A budget designed to fund improvements to Britain’s countryside is set to be raided, the BBC has learned.

Cash will be diverted away from ambitious conservation projects and towards protecting farm businesses.

The government previously promised that the £3bn currently paid to farms under EU agriculture policy would be wholly used to support the environment.

Ministers had said that, after Brexit, farmers would have to earn their subsidies.

Farmers would secure the case by undertaking actions such as large-scale forestry or catching flood waters.

But many farmers complained that they’d go bust unless the environmental actions were made easier to achieve.

The existing budget to fund ambitious countryside improvements, from which cash will be diverted, is called the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS).

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