CLA responds to NAO early review of Defra’s new farming programme

04 June 2019

Yorkshire fields

The CLA has responded to the National Audit Office's early review of Defra's new farming programme which will see farmers paid for public good and the introduction of environmental land management schemes, or ELMS.

Harry Greenfield, Senior Land Use Policy Adviser, CLA said: “We welcome the additional scrutiny provided by the NAO into Defra’s new farming programme. Given the proposed changes and the radical departure from the CAP, farmers and land owners need to be reassured that there is certainty that Defra has the planning, resource and strategic oversight needed to manage the programme.

“Defra itself has highlighted that moving to a system of contracts with farmers to deliver public goods – mainly environmental outcomes – is something that has not been tried before anywhere in the world. While the CLA is supportive of this innovative departure in policymaking, this should go hand in hand with a recognition of the requirements and risks of designing and delivering the new ELMS.

“We are pleased that previously raised concerns around communications with farmers, the transition period between current schemes and ELMS, and more detail around payment scope and rates have also been raised by the NAO. Furthermore, we agree with the NAO conclusion that some assumptions may be over-optimistic, including around productivity gains, and that more evidence, modelling and scenario testing is needed.”