ELS renewals ready for review

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ELS renewals for review

July 2010

ELS renewals for review

Those farmers in the UK who were the first to adopt the Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) in 2005 will be aware that the agreement which ran for 5 years will soon be coming to an end and they should now be considering their options for renewal.

Since ELS inception a number of factors have changed which must be considered when entering into a new agreement, such as the omission of management plans, which for some were an easy way of accruing points.
Thought must be given as to how ‘new’ options are found to replace the lost ‘management points’ and how new options could help with possible future requirements regarding the water framework directive, future soil strategy measures and the new Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) targets.

There is a concern that if CFE targets are not met, then a percentage of the farmer's total farm area will be earmarked as compulsory fallow. This may be an option that DEFRA considers in the future if farmers fail to renew ELS agreements or ignore CFE environmental option suggestions.

With this in mind, James Goodson of Fisher German’s farms department is encouraging farmers to seriously consider the continuation of existing agreements.

Fisher German has extensive experience in helping with the renewal of existing ELS agreements and if a Countryside Stewardship (CSS) is running alongside the ELS there may be an option to (depending on various factors) ‘port’ both the ELS and CSS schemes into a new Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement.

James Goodson comments: “We are now in the last few years of the Single Farm Payment as we know it. The payment for this is likely to reduce, and in our opinion will just be enough to incentivise farmers to fill in the application form, thus meaning they are then required by the Rural Payments Agency to ‘cross comply’. 

On the back of the potential reduction for SFP, it is a good idea for a landowner to lock into environmental funding for ELS, paid at a rate of £12 acre or £30 hectare for the next 5 years or HLS, if the farm is suitable, for 10 years at a higher payment rate. Both these incomes are at least guaranteed”.

For further information about renewing your ELS agreement or to discuss CCS and HLS agreements, please contact James Goodson on 01636 642507 email james.goodson@fishergerman.co.uk

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