ELMS: Learning the lessons from history.

delilah

Member
https://consult.defra.gov.uk/elm/elmpolicyconsultation/supporting_documents/ELM Policy Discussion Document 230620.pdf

PP 8 - 10:

Lessons learned from previous schemes Over the last two years we have been developing high level scheme design proposals, building on lessons learnt from previous schemes and collating evidence to inform design decisions. We will build these lessons into our scheme design proactively, reinforcing elements demonstrated to be successful and learning from past shortcomings. Some of the key lessons we have learned are:

a) We need high levels of uptake in ELM: if schemes are undersubscribed, as has happened with Countryside Stewardship, an uneven distribution of uptake and environmental outcome delivery is generated. ELM must work for all types of land managers and farm types, payment rates must be attractive to encourage participation, and it must be marketed effectively.

b) We need to make objectives clear for land managers: previous schemes have generally been most effective when they have had clear targets or objectives that are easily understood and supported. The classic example of this is the success of previous schemes in reversing the decline of the cirl bunting, and there are many others.

c) Land managers must have access to effective advisory services: advisory services play an important role in marketing schemes, promoting understanding and assisting in planning and implementation. There must be an effective advisory service to support ELM and we must identify where 1-1 advice could be most valuable. There is no “one size fits all” solution for advice and ELM may require more than one approach to the provision of advice (such as 1-1 advice and / or 1 to many), depending on the target outcome(s) and circumstances on the ground. 9

d) We must recognise positive actions and outcomes of land managers: once land managers have joined ELM and have started implementing their land management activities, we should seek to recognise and promote where their activities have generated good outcomes. Current schemes penalise poor delivery but do not balance this with positive recognition. This recognition is crucial in encouraging land managers to continue in their efforts, perhaps be more ambitious and demonstrate to all how successful outcomes can be delivered. Change is always difficult and land managers need to feel supported rather than targeted.

e) We need to balance delivering improvement with rewarding existing good practice: past policies have demonstrated the danger that by limiting payments to the adoption of additional actions, existing high-quality features and habitats may be destroyed. For ELM, we need to strike the right balance between rewarding and sustaining current best practice and encouraging new take up of environmental actions.

f) We should seek to create a layer of local prioritisation within ELM: farmers, foresters and other land managers benefit from being closely involved in identifying how their local area can help deliver environmental priorities (both national and local). In delivering ELM, we could consider devolving some of the responsibility for identifying local priorities and local planning, and allow local areas and their stakeholders to have a bigger role in deciding how both local and national priorities can be best delivered.

g) We must ensure ELM is not overly prescriptive: while we want to ensure land managers conduct activities on their land that we know are effective in delivering environmental outcomes, we should avoid mandating unnecessary levels of prescription over how they deliver these activities.

h) We need to ensure our compliance requirements and approach to enforcement within ELM are proportionate: under previous schemes, the compliance requirements placed on land managers were overly complex and demanding. This has reduced scheme participation (especially on farms with the smallest eligible area). We need to ensure that ELM’s compliance and reporting requirements are sensible and that demonstrating compliance isn’t unnecessarily burdensome. We also need to make sure that how we enforce compliance is proportionate: in the past, where land managers have been found to be in breach of their agreements, the approach to enforcement has been overly-punitive and harsh. We need to take a proportionate approach to instances of non- 10 compliance, using a range of enforcement mechanisms, and in the first instance, work to support compliance.

i) The applicant needs to have confidence in the delivery process: the decision on whether to enter into a scheme or not is based on a combination of simplicity of application, payment rates, reliability of payments (timeliness and fear of reclaims) and customer’s fear of penalties for breaking unrealistic or complex scheme rules. CS was not fully developed as an end-to-end process before it was launched and has faced difficulties at application, agreement and claim stages; this has reduced confidence in the scheme.
 
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B'o'B

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Rutland
Had a look at ELMS the other week and totted things up. if I maxed out every option payment would be around 40% of BPS, but put in the management and loss of income and costs and that would over half that again. I wouldn’t budget on being left with more than 10% of current BPS, then you step back and look at it and think ”That’s a lot of work for not much reward, probably much easier to cut costs even harder and not bother with ELMS”.

Reading the guidance did not inspire me and that is speaking as someone who already Direct Drills and uses precision farming. I know @delilah you think ELMS is just written for arable farms, but it still fails to inspire on this farm.
 
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Treg

Member
Location
Cornwall
https://consult.defra.gov.uk/elm/elmpolicyconsultation/supporting_documents/ELM Policy Discussion Document 230620.pdf

Lessons learned from previous schemes Over the last two years we have been developing high level scheme design proposals, building on lessons learnt from previous schemes and collating evidence to inform design decisions. We will build these lessons into our scheme design proactively, reinforcing elements demonstrated to be successful and learning from past shortcomings. Some of the key lessons we have learned are:

a) We need high levels of uptake in ELM: if schemes are undersubscribed, as has happened with Countryside Stewardship, an uneven distribution of uptake and environmental outcome delivery is generated. ELM must work for all types of land managers and farm types, payment rates must be attractive to encourage participation, and it must be marketed effectively.

b) We need to make objectives clear for land managers: previous schemes have generally been most effective when they have had clear targets or objectives that are easily understood and supported. The classic example of this is the success of previous schemes in reversing the decline of the cirl bunting, and there are many others.

c) Land managers must have access to effective advisory services: advisory services play an important role in marketing schemes, promoting understanding and assisting in planning and implementation. There must be an effective advisory service to support ELM and we must identify where 1-1 advice could be most valuable. There is no “one size fits all” solution for advice and ELM may require more than one approach to the provision of advice (such as 1-1 advice and / or 1 to many), depending on the target outcome(s) and circumstances on the ground. 9

d) We must recognise positive actions and outcomes of land managers: once land managers have joined ELM and have started implementing their land management activities, we should seek to recognise and promote where their activities have generated good outcomes. Current schemes penalise poor delivery but do not balance this with positive recognition. This recognition is crucial in encouraging land managers to continue in their efforts, perhaps be more ambitious and demonstrate to all how successful outcomes can be delivered. Change is always difficult and land managers need to feel supported rather than targeted.

e) We need to balance delivering improvement with rewarding existing good practice: past policies have demonstrated the danger that by limiting payments to the adoption of additional actions, existing high-quality features and habitats may be destroyed. For ELM, we need to strike the right balance between rewarding and sustaining current best practice and encouraging new take up of environmental actions.

f) We should seek to create a layer of local prioritisation within ELM: farmers, foresters and other land managers benefit from being closely involved in identifying how their local area can help deliver environmental priorities (both national and local). In delivering ELM, we could consider devolving some of the responsibility for identifying local priorities and local planning, and allow local areas and their stakeholders to have a bigger role in deciding how both local and national priorities can be best delivered.

g) We must ensure ELM is not overly prescriptive: while we want to ensure land managers conduct activities on their land that we know are effective in delivering environmental outcomes, we should avoid mandating unnecessary levels of prescription over how they deliver these activities.

h) We need to ensure our compliance requirements and approach to enforcement within ELM are proportionate: under previous schemes, the compliance requirements placed on land managers were overly complex and demanding. This has reduced scheme participation (especially on farms with the smallest eligible area). We need to ensure that ELM’s compliance and reporting requirements are sensible and that demonstrating compliance isn’t unnecessarily burdensome. We also need to make sure that how we enforce compliance is proportionate: in the past, where land managers have been found to be in breach of their agreements, the approach to enforcement has been overly-punitive and harsh. We need to take a proportionate approach to instances of non- 10 compliance, using a range of enforcement mechanisms, and in the first instance, work to support compliance.

i) The applicant needs to have confidence in the delivery process: the decision on whether to enter into a scheme or not is based on a combination of simplicity of application, payment rates, reliability of payments (timeliness and fear of reclaims) and customer’s fear of penalties for breaking unrealistic or complex scheme rules. CS was not fully developed as an end-to-end process before it was launched and has faced difficulties at application, agreement and claim stages; this has reduced confidence in the scheme.
Sounds good other than the advisor bit, yes we need advice but at what cost? For many farms the cost of advice will be a high proportion if not the same value as ELMS.
I know lots of farmers who would have joined previous schemes but find them to complicated to apply and the cost of having someone else to do it out weights the gains.
 

Phil P

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North West
Having browsed through elms and looked at the payment vs work required it really doesn’t look appealing!
I’m instead in the process of putting planning in to store another 100 caravans and if it all goes through ok I won’t need to worry about any public money for public goods ever again on my holding.

Having said that I have really enjoyed watching the wildlife enjoy my ab9 this year so that will possibly stay.
 
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Henarar

Member
Livestock Farmer
Sounds good other than the advisor bit, yes we need advice but at what cost? For many farms the cost of advice will be a high proportion if not the same value as ELMS.
I know lots of farmers who would have joined previous schemes but find them to complicated to apply and the cost of having someone else to do it out weights the gains.
I still say the best environmental scheme in as much as the way it worked from the farmers point of view was the first one, the ESA scheme, it was simple and cost nothing to sort out as the farmer decided what they wanted to do and the area ESA person drew it up, multi level depending on how much restriction you were prepared to except in order to get a bigger reward, even without someone to draw it up it would be simple enough now we are used to things like BPS applications.
The whole way it worked made sense from a farmers point of view IMHO.
if they want to learn lessons from history they need to go back to the very start.
@Defra Farming @Janet Hughes Defra
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
NFFN Member
I still say the best environmental scheme in as much as the way it worked from the farmers point of view was the first one, the ESA scheme, it was simple and cost nothing to sort out as the farmer decided what they wanted to do and the area ESA person drew it up, multi level depending on how much restriction you were prepared to except in order to get a bigger reward, even without someone to draw it up it would be simple enough now we are used to things like BPS applications.
The whole way it worked made sense from a farmers point of view IMHO.
if they want to learn lessons from history they need to go back to the very start.
@Defra Farming @Janet Hughes Defra
worked for those in an "environmentally sensitive area"......

SFI is supposed to work for all farmers.
 

gatepost

Member
Location
Cotswolds
It will all depend on the ground you have, a lot round here with large estates, a high proportion of fairly unproductive land historically , and years of enviro payments and a topper will take what ever is going, yet again basically a handout for land ownership, those of us actively farming, very unappealing and that's from someone with a lot of rough ground % wise, already in stewardship.
 

glasshouse

Member
Location
lothians
It will all depend on the ground you have, a lot round here with large estates, a high proportion of fairly unproductive land historically , and years of enviro payments and a topper will take what ever is going, yet again basically a handout for land ownership, those of us actively farming, very unappealing and that's from someone with a lot of rough ground % wise, already in stewardship.
Exactly
The cash is aimed at the idle rich
 

glasshouse

Member
Location
lothians
Many outside the land owning community would argue that this has always been the case
And always will be because any subsidy/land based payments will always end up with the land owner
We know that it ultimeately ends in the landlords hands, but its nice if it goes through some others first.
Now they just pay them direct and leave the rest of us hanging out to dry.
 
I was with a couple of Forestry Commission bods yesterday, the general consensus was that ELMS was far too complex for too little gain, the weighting of the payments need to deliver much more to farmers and a broad and shallow approach, similar to the old Entry Level Scheme would deliver much more environmental benefit and be relatively easy to apply for without any need for consultants.
 

B'o'B

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Rutland
I think this is very true ---from both ends

1) ELMS is not meant to replace BPS & many land managers haven't quite understood this yet
2) Govt haven't realised 1) ^ and hence wonder why there is no enthusiasm for the proposed schemes
Even those of us who knew it wasn’t going to be a replacement for BPS cannot get enthusiastic for such a complicated and unrewarding scheme as the current proposals are.
To understand the effect the change from BPS to ELMS will have on a business you need to compare what you have been receiving from BPS with what you can realistically expect to receive from ELMS. For us it would be maximum 40%, but more likely 30%. Then you need to account for taking 5-10% out of production, with the costs for managing it for the prescribed outcomes, along with other costs like nutrient mapping etc. It doesn’t even really look like being a replacement for Mid-tier stewardship.
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
NFFN Member
Even those of us who knew it wasn’t going to be a replacement for BPS cannot get enthusiastic for such a complicated and unrewarding scheme as the current proposals are.
To understand the effect the change from BPS to ELMS will have on a business you need to compare what you have been receiving from BPS with what you can realistically expect to receive from ELMS. For us it would be maximum 40%, but more likely 30%. Then you need to account for taking 5-10% out of production, with the costs for managing it for the prescribed outcomes, along with other costs like nutrient mapping etc. It doesn’t even really look like being a replacement for Mid-tier stewardship.
And then add in the potential reduction in capital value of the land if, as in the "Natural England knows best thread", you are prevented from ever returning it to a food productive use.
 

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