The NFU has called on thousands of farmers to help fend off the threat of a return to compulsory set aside. The union’s Corrina Gibbs explains how farmers can do their bit by filling out the annual Campaign for the Farmed Environment survey.
Every year DEFRA sends out a postal survey to find out how farmers and land managers are supporting the Campaign and the next one will drop through more than 5000 letter boxes on the 14 February.
This is your opportunity to show how much you are doing on farm for the environment and why regulation for environmental management is not necessary.
Why you should complete the survey
The second annual Survey of land managed under the Campaign for the Farmed Environment current 2010/11 crop year is being sent out to 5500 farmers and land managers with 10ha or more arable land. It will arrive in a DEFRA envelope but do complete it as this is your opportunity to make every acre count towards the CFE. This survey is the way in which progress towards the target to increase the area of land managed voluntarily under campaign voluntary measures to 204,000ha by June 2012 is monitored.
Not all farmers and land managers realise they are taking part in the campaign even when they are. Therefore, all farmers and land managers that receive this postal survey should complete it. Last year, more than 60% of you that received the survey completed it, so hopefully as many of you respond this year – remember to return it within two weeks.
The survey will report in May 2011 and during late spring and summer of 2011 it will be followed up by an independent field survey to determine whether the measures declared in the postal survey are established and whether the management is delivering the desired environmental outcomes.
How to fill in the survey in three easy steps
Step 1: What have you done as part of the CFE?
This is the largest section of the survey and it aims to assess the level of environmental management already being carried out on farms outside a formal agri-environment scheme, for example, ELS, HLS or one of the older “classics schemes” such as CSS or ESA. Therefore, the postal survey is not designed to assess the work farmers may already be doing in one of these schemes. Natural England is already doing this assessment for the campaign through its existing database, which is able to monitor this information in detail.
The survey then moves on to assess the management of land outside of any formal agri-environmental schemes, for which no payment is received. Although you may have an agri-environment agreement that covers your whole farm, the survey is focused on action being taken beyond this agreement and for which no payment is received.
You will also be asked if you have retained any uncropped land or left cultivatable land out of production.
Uncropped land includes:
1. Rotational fallow land
2. Land which fulfils the cross compliance standard GAEC 12 (agricultural land which is not in agricultural production).
Some of the campaign’s voluntary measures can be sited on GAEC 12 land:
C1 Grass buffers alongside temporary and permanent watercourses
C2 Grass areas to prevent erosion and run-off
C3a Reverted arable areas
C3b Optional scrub management
C5: Fallow plots/uncropped, Cultivated areas for ground-nesting birds on arable land
C6 Overwinter stubble followed by spring/summer fallow
C8: Uncropped, cultivated margins
C12a Pollen and nectar mixtures for arable or grassland areas
C12b Optional for use with horticultural crops
C13 Sown wildflower headlands
Management that could count as a Campaign Voluntary measure includes:
• A 6m grass strip next to a watercourse that is not one of your agri-environment scheme options (C1 – grass buffer strips)
• Game covers that do not contain giant sorghum or maize (C10 – game strips)
• Former grass set-aside areas (including areas with light scrub), cut annually after 31 July or lightly grazed each year (this would count as C3 reverted arable areas).
• Excess ELS overwinter stubbles could count towards the campaign. For example if you are paid through ELS to produce 10ha of stubbles but, due to your field sizes, you have produced 15ha, the 5ha not being paid for through ELS count towards the campaign (C7a Overwinter stubble).
Step 2: Awareness and attitudes
This section of the postal survey is short and simple and gathers information about general awareness of the campaign including monitoring your intentions for subsequent years to assess future potential of the campaign and how this changes over time.
Step 3: Follow-up survey work
DEFRA intends to follow up this survey with further research projects to find out more about farmer’s attitudes to environmental management, how the campaign is working on the ground and whether the right advice and support is available. This work will be contracted out to other organisations and may involve contacting respondents to arrange a farm visit or a further short survey. If a respondent is selected for this the information provided in the survey will be passed onto the contractors so they do not need to collect it again.
Help with completing the forms
Drop-in surgeries from the 17 February onwards are being run so that you can get help with filling in the survey.
17 February York Auction Mart (10-3pm)
19 February Selby Auction Mart (10-3pm)
23 February Selby Auction Mart (10-3pm)
24 February Thirsk Auction Mart (10-3pm)
You can contact your local campaign co-ordinator direct for advice – contact details available at www.cfeonline.org.uk or the national coordinator on 024 7685 8536.
Where to find more information on the campaign voluntary measures
At the end of January 2010 A Farmer’s Guide to the Voluntary Measures was sent to all arable/mixed farmers. However, if you have not got a copy, the essential management requirements are being sent out with the survey. The full guide is available for download at www.cfeonline.org.uk. Basically, long as you are following the management listed under the ‘Essential requirements’ (shown in the red box for each measure) this will count as a campaign voluntary measure regardless of when you started the management.
Campaign voluntary measures that could be established in Spring 2011
• Cultivate a 1-2.5ha fallow plot between 1 February and 15 March for ground-nesting birds (Campaign Measure – C5)
• Retain overwinter cereal stubbles until 14 February (campaign measure – C7) or follow with a summer fallow until 31 July (campaign measure – C6).
• On light soils cultivate an uncropped arable margin for rare arable plants (Campaign measure – C8)
• Wild bird seed mixtures and game strips (campaign measures – C9 & C10)
• Sow or retain a 3-6m cereal headland as developed by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. If autumn-sown, retain for 18 months and if spring-sown, retain for 12 months. (Campaign measure – C11)
• Pollen and nectar mixtures and sown wildflower headlands. If sowing in the Spring wait until soil temperatures have risen (April/May). (campaign measure – C12a & b)