On Wednesday, the National Audit Office published a report on the government's new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. The report focuses on examining three elements of Environmental Land Management (ELM): the strategic element of ELM, delivery of Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and progress on delivering the long term benefits of the scheme.
The Environmental Land Management schemes will set out new payments and incentives to reward farmers for farming more sustainably, creating space for nature on their land and enhancing animal welfare, replacing the schemes available the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Richard Fuller, MP for North East Bedfordshire, said:
When I was elected MP I said to local farmers and to our NFU representatives that I would keep on top of the implementation of the various new schemes – on environmental goals, new payment systems and animal welfare – to identify and voice concerns early should they arise. Of all sectors of the economy, our agricultural sector is facing the most profound changes. Many of these changes offer a brighter, more sustainable future, but this can only be achieved if they are efficiently rolled out and regular assessments of their impact are made.
The report, as is the nature of NAO reports, is designed to be helpfully critical, but there is also recognition of the considerable progress being made. The following is an example:
“Defra and its delivery partners have worked hard in challenging circumstances to design ELM within the planned timescales. However, important elements are not yet in place, creating risks to environmental outcomes and value for money. ELM is not yet underpinned by a strong set of objectives and Defra’s planning is too short‑term in its focus. Defra also has considerable work to do to ensure ELM is delivered in a cost-effective way including developing its approach to controlling fraud and error and to delivering cost savings.”
I encourage local farmers to read the report and I will be happy to discuss concerns or observations further.
A summary of the report can be read here.
The full report can be found here.