LEAF ELMS trial: A chance for positive participation in policy process

13 January 2020

As we have all been aware for a while, financial support for farmers is set to change. Billed as a complete shift to ‘public payments for public goods’, current proposals in England are that Basic Payment and Countryside Stewardship Schemes are set to be replaced entirely by a new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) by 2028. The background rationale and timeline for this move can be found here, with public goods outcomes to be rewarded stated as:

  • Clean and plentiful water
  • Clean air
  • Thriving plants and wildlife
  • Reduction in and protection from environmental hazards
  • Adaptation to and mitigation of climate change
  • Beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment

The potential for this to be great news for agroecological farming is very real, with support for transition to growing landscapes that provide win-win outcomes for productivity, biodiversity and public engagement. The nitty gritty of how this can best be done with due regard for environmental, social and economic factors is currently being explored. A wide range of organisations are conducting tests and trials throughout 2020 evaluating land management aspects as diverse as water storage, woodland management and pollinator friendly landscapes alongside the practicalities of mapping, monitoring and accrediting positive outcomes.

With nearly 30 years of promoting and facilitating best practice under its belt, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is perfectly placed to be using its experience and expertise in making sure the new system works for the farmed landscape as a whole including farm businesses and supporting ecosystem services. Its established environmental assurance system, LEAF Marque, has been adding value for over 15 years through recognition of the multi-dimensional benefits of Integrated Farm Management (IFM) which utilises a wide-reaching toolbox to deliver exactly the kinds of outcomes indicated in the ELMS brief.

Using monitored progress towards LEAF Marque certification as a proxy for transition to environmental enhancement by farmers, LEAF is trialling three different training packages designed to support 60 farms towards a long-term adoption of sustainable farming practices with market recognition. And we are looking for participants! It is a brilliant opportunity to be part of the process, with a potential legacy of lasting improvements to your land and business.

Benefits include:

  • A package of training and support at no cost to you
  • The opportunity to make long-term sustainability improvements on-farm
  • Network support
  • £500 towards your time and other costs (for instance LEAF membership which is not included)

To take part you need to:

  • Be farming in England
  • Be interested in adopting or expanding IFM practices (no experience necessary)
  • Hold Red Tractor assurance for all commercial enterprises on your farm
  • Not currently be LEAF Marque certified or have been within 5 years
  • Either be a member of or willing to join LEAF
  • Be able and willing to travel to two events during 2020
  • Be able to commit to participation through 2020

Applications close at midday on 29th January.

If you are interested in playing a part in helping to shape policy and developing a future payment system that can work for you, your land and your business, then we’d love to hear from you.

More information can be found here or get in touch with me at lucy.bates@leafuk.org.

Integrated Farm Management delivers public goods!

Lucy Bates writes of herself: "After 20 years of growing veg on a small to medium scale, including an organic conversion for an estate kitchen garden, I branched out into arable agronomy as cereals and oilseeds are a dominant feature of the Wiltshire landscape I live in. As a thatchers wife, I have always been involved in the growing, harvest and processing of heritage wheats for thatching straw- and more recently for artisan baking. Having encountered polarised views on agriculture across sectors, I undertook a masters degree in Agroecology at Harper Adams in the interests of furthering constructive dialogue between equally inspiring advocates. Integrated Farm Management represents to me the implementation of best practices as demonstrated across the spectrum and working for LEAF an exciting opportunity to see these being implemented on the ground. Being part of the ELMS trials programme feels like an insight into how UK ag can move forwards collaboratively towards landscape scale improvements."

All images courtesy of LEAF

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