5 July 2012
A new industry-backed leaflet on funding and support for lowland beef and sheep farmers was launched yesterday (4 July 2012) at the National Sheep Show.
The Natural England-led booklet, supported by The National Farmers’ Union, the National Sheep Association, the National Beef Association and the Environment Agency, provides clear and helpful information on how environmental management through Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) can complement farming practices and provide business benefits.
The leaflet provides, all in one place, an overview of information and new scheme developments relevant to lowland beef and sheep farming. It covers all the key sources of grant aid, incentive schemes, and advice to improve both the economic productivity and environmental sustainability of this specific sector.
This is the first in a series piloting a new approach to providing farmers with information about changes to RDPE funded socio-economic and agri-environment schemes. If it’s successful, similar leaflets will be produced for other farming sectors in consultation with the industry.
Launching the leaflet at the National Sheep Show, Geoff Sansome, Natural England’s Director of Land Management for the South of England, said: “As part of a family beef farm in Worcestershire, I understand the day to day practical issues faced by farmers. There are a wide range of Environmental Stewardship options available to farmers and this leaflet helps focus on those which can easily be integrated into lowland beef and sheep farms, so that more environmental enhancements can be achieved as part of their productions systems. We want to make it easier for farmers to access the information and support they need and we are delivering advice in a more integrated way with the farming industry to help achieve this”.
This approach is supported on the ground. Mr Jones of Sparchford Farm in Shropshire received a CSF Capital Grant to install fencing along a coppiced stretch of river bank and a livestock drinking bay on the adjacent ditch away from the main river to provide a watering hole for his livestock. He said: “Thanks to funding, advice and guidance from all the organisations working together, a whole stretch of the river on my farm has hugely benefitted”.
Keith Siddorn, of Meadow Bank Farm in Cheshire, has been in ELS since 2005. He said: "The enhanced hedgerow management and pond buffer options fit easily into the way that I farm, provide great wildlife habitats and I am guaranteed to receive payments for five years which really helps my cash flow".
Phil Stocker, Chief Executive, National Sheep Association said: "The National Sheep Association welcomes this leaflet which will help farmers understand what funding and support is available under ELS and CSF, and how the schemes complement each other. In these schemes farmers have the opportunity to get financial incentives and rewards for good environmental practices, something that is key to a sustainable sheep farming business.”
Joanne Pugh, Assistant Director, National Beef Association said: “It is easy to assume there is no funding and support out there, so the National Beef Association is pleased to see Natural England present information on ELS and CSF in this one place. We hope it will encourage even more farmers to get involved, benefitting from the available funds and continuing the good environmental management that British agriculture is increasingly renowned for.”
Charles Sercombe, Livestock Board Chairman, National Farmers’ Union said: “As well as producing food for the nation, livestock farmers have a key role in maintaining and improving some of the most sensitive habitats and landscapes in the country. The National Farmers’ Union supports this document, which clearly sets out how farmers can access schemes to support this important role and explains how the work they do benefits the environment.”
The lowland beef and sheep sector booklet is the first of the new-style publications in part because many of the upcoming expiring ESA agreements are held by lowland beef and sheep farmers. Many of these agreement holders will transfer to ELS agreements and the booklet will help farmers plan for this transition. Other farmers and land managers in the sector will be renewing their ELS agreements, and the leaflet will help them understand what priority options should be included to maximise benefits for both their farming systems and the environment.
It also contains information about changes to the ELS scheme options that are being introduced as part of the Defra-led programme, Making Environmental Stewardship More Effective (MESME). The MESME changes come into effect from 1 January 2013, and farmers need information about these changes now, to help them plan future agreements.
Notes to Editors:
Almost 6.2million hectares of farmland (67% of the available farmland in England) are under one of the agri-environment schemes managed by Natural England and produce a wide range of benefits – food and fuel, wildlife, water, and woodlands, landscape and beautiful countryside.
Catchment Sensitive Farming
Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) offers farmers practical training, advice and capital grants to help reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture in 65 priority catchments and nine catchment partnerships in England
About Natural England
Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.
We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.
We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and advising widely on their conservation.
We run Environmental Stewardship and other green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.
We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.
We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.
For further information contact: Linzee Kottman on 0300 060 2058, 07824334819, firstname.lastname@example.org out of hours 07970 098005. For more information about Natural England, please visit: www.naturalengland.org.uk