A unique arrangement between food giant Nestle and processor First Milk is redefining the rule book on how it pays farmers for agri-environmental schemes.
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) believed the scheme, which sees farmers being paid directly through their contracts for delivering quality agri-environment work through a points-based system, could act as a blueprint for future environmental schemes.
The GWCT, which hosted the Kellogg’s Origins Food, Farming and Environment conference at its Allerton Project in Leicestershire last week, worked with both companies to formulate a set of measures producers would be rewarded for.
Jim Egan, head of training and development at the Allerton Project, said: “We picked a set of measures and each one of those activities attracted a number of points, related directly back to the amount of produce coming from their milking parlour.
“Each farmer has to reach their points. For example, for restoring every metre of stone wall you get 40 points and for planting a hectare of woodland you get 6,000 points.”
Mr Egan added the scheme involved minimal inspections and relied on trust.
“For every annually delivered task we asked if they could take a picture before, during and after. That was all the evidence we needed,” he said.
This year saw the addition of soil sampling, scoring and nutritional planning, with 59 farmers soil sampling across 609 fields.
South west Scotland dairy farmer Alan Dunlop, one of those producing milk for Nestle’s Kit Kats, added:
“This is possibly a blueprint for our current Government to look at to link to future support payments made to our industry post-Brexit.”