The CLA has unveiled the details of its proposed post-Brexit agricultural policy, the Land Management Contract (LMC).
The LMC offers farmers the opportunity to enter into a contract to provide public benefits in return for guaranteed payments set at an ‘attractive’ level.
It is made up of four elements: the universal LMC, the universal capital LMC, the enhanced LMC and landscape scale restoration (click here for more information on each scheme below).
CLA president Tim Breitmeyer said: “For a long time, the CLA has advocated a policy which incentivises land managers to deliver public goods like creating new habitats for wildlife, action to improve soil quality and delivering high standards of animal welfare.
“It is crucial that this milestone towards a sustainable future for the countryside is thoughtfully designed and well-delivered.
“If the scheme does not make good business sense, and is not designed to work alongside profitable food production, the opportunity will be lost.
“This means sufficient investment into the scheme, whilst avoiding unnecessary complexities and burdensome red tape.
“It also means long-term guaranteed payments so farm businesses can have the certainty which is crucial in planning for a resilient future.”
Though there would be a national, English, framework for the LMC, design and delivery of the contracts would be decentralised to 14 local areas recently created by the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.
Working with land managers, these local areas would be able to adapt the LMC to reflect their own specific needs.
A league table of performance, ranking the 14 areas’ performance in terms of paying applicants, completing applications, environmental outcomes and co-investment could also help drive improvements in customer service.
Training and support for land managers would be available under the LMC too, with each local area receiving funding specifically for this purpose.
Farmers who chose to undergo ecological training could boost their income and monitor compliance with their own contractual obligations, reducing the inspection burden for Government.
These ongoing payments would be available to all land managers, with rolling application windows and multi-annual agreements of between three and ten years.
There would be a menu of activities relevant to each area for farmers to choose from, with delivery incentivised through use of a points system, with a threshold above which a premium would be paid.
The points system would provide rural businesses with flexibility, allowing farmers to focus on a limited set of high point activities or make smaller changes.
Funding would also be provided for managing historic features under the universal LMC.
This set of one-off payments would be available to all land managers, with rolling application windows. Some options would be co-funded by non-Government sources.
Examples of activities which could be funded by capital LMCs include putting up fences to protect watercourses, restoring historic farm buildings, improving manure storage facilities, creating new ponds or moving to enriched rearing systems.
This competitive scheme would be open to all farmers, with rolling application windows.
Payments would be targeted to enhance or maintain natural features, with bonuses available for land managers who carried out environmental work in collaboration with their neighbours, encouraging ecological connectivity between parcels of land.
This competitive element of the LMC is designed to support the restoration or creation of habitats across large areas.
Any agreement would be required to cover at least 5,000 hectares and include land managers, with funding made available to develop applications through an annual window.
There would be a fixed budget for each year, with a maximum budget per project. Local areas would choose a small number of schemes to fund.