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From the editor: Place farmers at the heart of environmental solutions

If Defra and Natural England are finally seeing sense and adopting a farmer-centric approach to environmental schemes then it must be welcomed.


Ben   Briggs

Ben   Briggs

Top-down, hard to fathom schemes dreamed up by civil servants have been the bane of many farmers’ lives in recent decades and mean the emergence of the ’payment by results’ pilots mark a shift in approach from Government.

 

Proof of success will, ultimately, emerge over time and there is some concern that by putting more onus on the farmer or landowner, the administrators of the scheme are avoiding accountability in the event of delivery problems.

 

But given the shambles many believe Countryside Stewardship has been, they will look upon this with hope at least.

 

Speaking to farmers across the country, one of the main themes which crops up is the serious problems they are experiencing with environmental payment options, particularly for those in England exiting entry level or Higher Level Stewardship schemes.


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Too much red tape, too little flexibility and too great a level of bureaucracy are all common complaints.

 

And while some within Government might view these schemes as additional income streams, for many in the uplands in particular, their stewardship claims could be bigger than their Basic Payment.

 

Enabling farmers to choose the suite of options they want and how best to implement them has been something unions and other representative bodies have championed for some time.

 

Farmers want to help the environment and maybe this is a first step to placing them at the heart of the solution.

THE cancellation of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) annual convention seems to be a somewhat curious decision which robs future generations of the chance of partaking in one of the industry’s most iconic social occasions.

 

Yes, there have been idiots who have caused trouble in recent years, but they hardly represent the vast majority of Young Farmers who behave in a trouble-free manner – and are there to make memories which last a lifetime.

 

With 25 per cent of members thought to join NFYFC just to gain access to the convention, the board’s decision not to consult its membership appears indefensible.

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