Campaign for the Farmed Environment
Partners praise CFE progress as it celebrates second birthday
As the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) celebrates its second birthday, new figures reveal that farmers have actively placed land the equivalent of around 73,000 football pitches into schemes aimed at protecting the environment.
Campaign partners praised farmers, land managers, agronomists and farm advisers who have contributed to the achievements and re-iterated the need for effective co-operation as the Campaign heads into its third year.
Recent figures from Natural England reveal a 32 per cent increase of CFE target options in Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) since the Campaign began. Out of over 41,600 live Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) agreements, over 11,600 contain CFE options. This equates to an area of 52,317ha under key CFE/ELS target options or the equivalent of around 73,000 football pitches.
Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: “I’m really grateful to those farmers who have supported the Campaign during its first two years and done their bit to improve the environment. Progress has been made, but there is still a lot to be done over the next 6 months to ensure the Campaign truly delivers on its promises. We hope that farmers will continue to give the Campaign their wholehearted support and many more will join them to help make it a success.”
Farmers and land managers can support the Campaign in two ways: by gaining at least 30 per cent of their ELS points from choosing key target options or by putting three to four per cent of land into CFE voluntary measures. Supporting the Campaign using these percentages as a minimum guideline will ensure that national progress towards the CFE targets continue.
William Worsley, CLA President, added: “The CLA is proud to be a founding partner of the CFE which has recognised and built upon the tremendous amount of environmental management already done by farmers and land managers.
“Farm advisers and agronomists have shown incredible support for the Campaign, and the expertise of local co-ordinators has helped to provide accessible information and tailored advice for farmers and land managers. The ability to use agri-environment scheme funding to pay for some Campaign management options has proved a major boost in pushing the Campaign forward.
“With just over six months left for the CFE to prove to the Government that the farming industry can be trusted, I urge farmers and land managers to take a fresh look at their existing management options and check if they count towards making the Campaign a success.”
NFU President Peter Kendall said: “The success of the CFE over the past two years has demonstrated yet again the value of the partnership approach. When it comes to balancing efficient food production with environmental conservation, co-operation will always achieve more than coercion, even at a time when volatile markets and major changes to the CAP are making it very difficult for farmers to plan ahead.
“Whatever the future holds on that score, we will achieve the best outcomes for farming and the countryside by farmers, advisers and conservationists working together, as they have so effectively in the CFE, to find the solutions that will enable us to produce more, while impacting less.”
The Campaign has until June 2012 to gain enough support to fend off future burdensome regulation. Even with CAP greening proposals, the Campaign remains a strong voice in the battle against regulation but only if farmers continue to support it over the winter and into next year.
Are you a secret supporter of the CFE?
Farmers and land managers could already be supporting the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) without knowing it because many management practices commonly undertaken on farm count towards it.
The Campaign has 15 voluntary measures ranging from grass buffer strips to overwintered stubbles retained until February 14, which provide easy options for farms to support the Campaign. Management just has to meet the essential requirements of a chosen voluntary measure to count. Farmers and land managers are being urged to compare their current options with the essential management requirements of the Campaign’s voluntary measures to see whether they are secretly supporting the Campaign.
Victoria Hicks, CFE National Programme Coordinator said: “We need farmers to stand up and be counted for the management practices they perhaps don’t realise are part of the Campaign. You could have planted wild bird seed or be using one application of herbicide in the spring, as long as these meet the essential management requirements then you are already a CFE supporter!
“But don’t keep it a secret – tell us what and how much land you are managing outside of agri-environment scheme options by using the CFE online record to make it count.”
FWAG’s technical director Jim Egan said: “Many farmers don’t realise that existing practices on their farms can count as positive contributions to the Campaign. Game strips that don’t contain maize or giant sorghum are a common practice across farmland that meets the CFE requirements. Sometimes, just a small tweak is needed to adjust the land management so it supports the CFE.”
While there are no fixed percentages to participate in the Campaign, if every farm put 3-4 per cent of arable area into key target options in Campaign voluntary measures or in combination with Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), the CFE will succeed.
Record for voluntary measures re-launched in vital year for CFE
Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) voluntary measures can once again be recorded online so farmers and land managers can declare the work they are undertaking to support the Campaign.
Many farmers manage marginal areas of land to benefit farm businesses and at the same time provide habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects, as well as protecting watercourses. This management can be recognised as voluntary measures that support the CFE, but they need to be recorded.
Corrina Gibbs, national project manager, said: “Farmers and land managers across England may be surprised to find out that their existing management, with small changes to practices, could count towards the CFE. It can be as simple as keeping unsprayed stubbles until mid-February or replacing maize game strips with seed-bearing crops for birds.
“By managing areas of marginal land in line with the ‘red box’ or essential requirements, as detailed in the ‘Guide to voluntary measures’, the industry can show its ability to deliver environment benefits without the need for regulation.”
The online option is the quick and easy way to record support. Alternatively, a hard copy can be ordered from the CFE Programme Office by emailing email@example.com or calling 024 7685 8892, which can also provide farm signs highlighting these measures on farm and copies of the ‘Guide to voluntary measures’.
New report shows CFE is making progress but more needs to be done
More than 60 per cent of farmers and land managers who have renewed or joined Entry Level Stewardship have done so to directly throw their weight behind the Campaign for the Farmed Environment, according to a Defra survey published on 11 May.
News that voluntary land management is being actively put in place by farmers and land managers to provide environmental benefits across England has been welcomed by the CFE. But, the partnership has warned that with just one more year to achieve some tough targets the good work on the ground needs to increase but those that have taken action to support the CFE need to be congratulated.
CFE Delivery Group chairman Jim Egan said: “In addition to retaining uncropped land and putting in place key target options in ELS, we need to see more than 200,000 hectares in voluntary measures. Over 20 per cent of farmers are currently not doing anything for the CFE, but the survey revealed that they have now agreed to take action to support the Campaign. Their actions in this third and final year really will count.”
The CFE says that while the report sees the Campaign moving in the right direction around 60 per cent of land which could potentially contribute to the CFE voluntary measures target is not being managed in line with the essential or ‘red box’ requirements - key to CFE success.
“Farmers need to ensure that their good intentions for environmental protection are managed in accordance with the Campaign’s essential requirements,” said Mr Egan. “I would urge farmers to take this into consideration when planning next year’s cropping. This could be as simple as keeping unsprayed stubbles until mid-February or replacing maize game strips with seed-bearing crops for birds".
“Telling information was also revealed in the Defra survey about the important role being played by agronomists and advisers. At this crucial stage it is important that farmers and land managers make the most of the range of advice that is out there and show that by using voluntary management they can produce more food and impact less on the environment.”
View the full Defra survey results here – http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/foodfarm/enviro/landenvmanage/
Annual CFE survey for farmers to make every acre count
Farmers and land managers are being urged to “make every acre count” ahead of the Campaign for the Farmed Environment’s (CFE) second annual survey.
The survey of land managed under the CFE current 2010/11 crop year will be sent out on Monday, 14 February to 5,500 farmers and land managers with 10 hectares or more arable land.
This is a unique opportunity to ensure that every acre managed under key target options in ELS and Campaign voluntary measures is counted. The survey is the formal way by which annual progress towards the final voluntary measures target of 204,000ha by June 2012 is measured.
Many farmers do not realise that existing practices on their farms are positive contributions to the Campaign. In many cases, through ELS options or voluntary measures, such as excess ELS over winter stubbles and game covers that do not contain giant sorghum or maize, you could be making contributions to the Campaign objectives.
Help in completing the survey will be available through specific surgeries running across the country or from local Campaign co-ordinators, agronomists or advisers.
Details of advice surgeries providing help on completing the survey can be found at http://www.cfeonline.org.uk as well as guidance which will assist in completing the forms.
Back CFE or risk ‘compulsory approach’, says Jim Paice
Compulsory options including set aside could be a real threat unless all farmers and land managers back the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) to ensure its success.
In an open letter to the industry Minister for Agriculture, Jim Paice praised the work of the Campaign in using targeted land management to deliver valuable environmental benefits. But he warned that if more farmers don’t support CFE he will “consider a compulsory approach”.
Mr Paice said: “The Government is putting food production back up the agenda, but we have made it clear that this must be done alongside protecting and enhancing the environment and farmers must show they can do both. We want the Campaign to be a success and don’t believe that we should regulate and impose more red tape if the farming community can achieve the same results through its own actions.
“The CFE is the farming industry’s chance to demonstrate that this voluntary approach can work better than regulation and that they are best placed to decide on, and tackle, their local environmental priorities, without intervention. But if the farming community cannot step up and achieve these results voluntarily the Government will have to consider a compulsory approach to deliver these same benefits.”
CLA President William Worsley said: “This is a critical year for the Campaign and land managers need to act now while we have the chance.
“We need to show what we in the industry already know - that England's farmers can be relied upon to conserve the natural environment so long as we are provided with the right opportunities, information and incentives. We don’t need a return to the bad old days of top-down regulation.
“It is vital, particularly as spring approaches, that everyone supports the Campaign. Whether it is cultivating a fallow plot for ground nesting birds or leaving an arable margin uncropped to benefit rare arable plants, we all need to do our bit - and to be seen to be doing out bit.”
Read Jim Paice’s letter in full: http://www.cfeonline.org.uk/News/Open-letter-from-Minister-of-State-to-the-Farming-Industry/
Free signs for farmers taking part in Campaign for the Farmed Environment
Farmers and land managers are being offered free signs to show they are protecting the environment and wildlife on their farms to support the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. The new signs, supported by Syngenta, can be used to indicate key target options in Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and campaign voluntary measures.
Syngenta have been particularly keen to show their support as the environmental outcomes of CFE are shared by their own project, Operation Pollinator. Farmers involved in Operation Pollinator are already doing their bit for the Campaign by establishing and managing pollen rich habitat in key locations on their farms. Many of the measures and options promoted by CFE and Operation Pollinator alike are margins near to public footpaths so the signs will also help the public understand why these wildlife areas exist.
Over 60 beacon farmers supporting the Campaign on the ground will be the first to receive a farm sign. However, all farmers and land managers can request their own sign by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 024 76858 536 and providing details of how they are taking part in CFE.
What you should know about the Campaign:
If every farmer and land manager in England established just one hectare of pollen and nectar mix, and two of wild bird seed on every 100 hectares of land in production, together with buffers beside vulnerable watercourses, then the Campaign will succeed.
There are no fixed percentages for options that count towards the Campaign’s success but as a guideline, if every farm put three to four percent of arable area into key target options in ELS and Campaign voluntary measures, then you can avoid losing a minimum of three percent of farm payments and six percent of productive land.
Every farmer and land manager has the power to make the Campaign a success. You need to work with your agronomists and advisers to decide the best way to contribute to the Campaign on your holding.
If you are renewing or entering ELS you should ensure that one third of your agreement points are in key target options including field corner management, pollen and nectar and wild bird seed mix.
Andrew Scoley, a CLA member in Lincolnshire, is entering ELS for the first time on his farm in response to the Campaign. Contractors undertake the work on the farm which means the management for the ELS and Campaign options takes extra planning. However, when asked why he was participating in the Campaign, Andrew said: “We wish to contribute to environmental improvement voluntarily by using the options which suit us best and not by other compulsory measures imposed upon us by central government. We want to be seen to be improving the environment and to be paid, at least in part, for doing so too.”
The Campaign is running various events for both farmers and their advisers throughout the winter. BASIS and NRoSO points are available at Campaign events.
Have you planned your management options?
The Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) is now one year old and we're pleased to see so many farmers and land managers tweaking their game mixes, retaining their uncropped land and choosing the key Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) management options when they renew their agreement.
However, there is still more to do if the industry is to meet the Campaign’s targets, which is why there are a number of CFE events across the country for you and your agronomists/advisers coming up over the next few months.
Details are available from www.cfeonline.org.uk/events.
The events will give you the opportunity to ask other farmers, land managers and agronomists about the best way to manage both the ELS management options and the Campaign Voluntary Measures and how these can be designed to complement the farm business.
The CLA is asking every one of our farming members to get behind the Campaign for the Farmed Environment so we can better argue against regulation on your behalf in future.
The Campaign has something for everyone and with the Campaign Voluntary Measures, if you do not want to participate in Government agri-environment schemes you can still back the industry.
So many farmers and land managers are getting behind the Campaign, take a look at this flowchart to see how you can participate. Your local CLA regional office is also a great place to find out more about the Campaign.
What are you doing to beat regulation?
Please remember the Campaign for the Farmed Environment as you begin sowing your winter crops. It is vital that farmers and land managers adopt some of the Campaign’s management options, whether paid for through Environmental Stewardship or by the farm business.
The Campaign offers the industry a fantastic opportunity to show the Government ‘Big Society’ in action and helps the CLA to argue against increasing regulation for all land management activities. If the industry fails to meet the Campaign targets, any farm with cultivatable land could be asked to put up to six percent of this land into Environmental Management options through cross-compliance which means it is not paid for.
The Campaign aims to help farmers and land managers beat regulation by enhancing the countryside. We believe that those who own and work on the land are best-placed to decide how to preserve the environment most effectively.
To join the Campaign is easy:
- Choose the key target options for the Campaign when you join or renew the Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) scheme and put in place voluntary measures.
- Retain your former set-aside and any other areas of uncropped land and record these on your Annual Defra June survey returns.
- Put areas outside of ELS and Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) management options into a Campaign voluntary measure. These can be located in areas like field corners or wet holes. Check out the ‘red box’ for each measure to find out what you need to do.
- Farmers who do not wish to be part of a formal agri-environment agreement can - and should - join the Campaign.
If the Campaign is not a success, the Government may impose a regime in which six percent of your land is taken out of food production and managed for set environmental outcomes.
The Campaign's own website is www.cfeonline.org.uk
There has been strong interest among CLA members with well-attended CFE launches across England. More than 70 farmers and advisers turned out in Kent and expressed enthusiasm for the idea of managing the land to encourage wildlife.
ELS renewals run at a high level
Already, 92 percent of farmers have said that they are going to renew their ELS agreement and many farmers have adopted the Campaign’s Voluntary Measures. If you are not sure what to do why not take a look at what others are doing in your area?
Read BBC coverage and hear from a farmer and CLA member who has joined the Campaign.
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