Uptake of stewardship schemes falls

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News article

Uptake in stewardship schemes has fallen

January 2012

rural consultancy news

James Goodson, Agri-Business Consultant and Partner at Fisher German’s Newark office, gives an update on the situation regarding Agri-environment Schemes.

“Uptake of stewardship schemes has dropped off in recent months as some farmers hesitate rather than renew their support and others, unsure of what the pending Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms will bring, err on the side of caution. However, farming industry bodies have warned that, if the number of subscribers to voluntary environmental management schemes such as the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) falls too far, meaning targets are not met, the Government could impose mandatory cross compliance regulation.
 
“Most Member States including the UK have attacked the European Commission’s (EC) greening proposals in detail, focusing particularly on the 30% ‘greening’ payment tier as being too high and the 7% ecological focus area as being excessive and counter- productive. 
 
“The EC has come under intense pressure regarding the 7% area and whether this includes or excludes existing areas down to stewardship, be it in some form or another. Whether included formally or not, it is thought that ELS or HLS scheme holders who have in-field options and buffer strips would qualify in any event.
 
“In addition to the above, there are a number of things that have changed if you are considering entering into or renewing a new agreement, such as the omission of the old management plans which for some were an easy way of accruing points.
 
“Careful consideration needs to be given as to how ‘new’ options need to be found to replace these lost ‘management points’ and how these new options could help with possible future requirements regarding the water framework directive, future soil strategy measures and the new targets.
 
“If you are renewing your existing ELS agreement or you have a Countryside Stewardship (CSS) running alongside your ELS you may (depending on various factors) be able to ‘port’ both the ELS and CSS schemes into a new Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement.” 
 
For further information, please contact James Goodson on 01636 642500 or james.goodson@fishergerman.co.uk 
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