Have your say on Defra’s new ELM scheme

Farmers are being given the chance to help shape the government’s Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme for England.

Six webinars have been set up to ensure farmers can share their views on the proposed design of three “tiers” of entry.

See also: Environmental Land Management scheme – the detail unpicked

The tiers have been designed so farmers and land managers can participate in the new scheme at different levels, and help shape it.

The webinars will be held in July.

In addition, the government has published a discussion document on Citizen Space, so those who can’t attend have an opportunity to respond to the proposals.

Defra says submitted views, experiences and advice will help ensure the new scheme is co-designed with farmers and does not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Farm minister Victoria Prentis said many farmers and land managers were already contributing directly to the design of  the ELM scheme by participating in ongoing tests and trials.

“This conversation is a chance for farmers and land managers to have their say and help shape our future approach to farming alongside caring for the environment. I would encourage all those interested to sign up to an event and have their voice heard.”

Reaction

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has voiced concern that Defra is focusing on delivering a boosted Countryside Stewardship scheme rather than a brand-new ELM scheme.

TFA chairman Mark Coulman said it was also essential for the new scheme to direct support at active farmers, rather than the landowner.

Mr Coulman said: “This is of fundamental importance to those farming land they do not own.We do not want to see inactive landlords being the beneficiaries of new schemes. Whatever new arrangements come into being, practical delivery must be considered.

“Farmers and land managers must be used for co-design of these schemes to ensure they will function well in hitting their targets.

“It will be a major missed opportunity if we fail to deliver well-designed schemes, having just regained control of our farm support systems as we leave the regulations of the EU behind.

How to get involved

Farmers interested in attending a webinar can sign up via Eventbrite.

Farmers looking to get involved in the webinars should also follow Defra on Facebook, as all followers will be notified of the links to sign up to webinars within the events on their page.

The policy document has remained available for review online since it was launched in February.

People who have already submitted a response will have the opportunity to review or resubmit their response within the new timeframe.

The deadline to share views on the document setting out policy ideas is 31 July 2020.

Interested parties can request a print copy of the ELM Policy Discussion Document, or send in written feedback, by emailing ELMfeedback@defra.gov.uk.