Useful Information

What is the challenge farmers and moorland managers face?

Farming/food production is undergoing a period of huge change. Government policy is to move away from directly supporting farmers, to only providing support for delivery of ‘environmental goods and services’. All farmers face the loss of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), which will reduce to 50% by 2024 and to zero by the end of 2027. We estimate this will mean the farming/land management economy in the SWEF area alone (not the whole Yorkshire Dales) will lose over £10m per annum above and below moorland line.

How will SWEF fit with the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM) and existing Countryside Stewardship Schemes?

Being a member of SWEF will not prevent anyone from entering CSS or ELMs, and may help secure better returns from Landscape Recovery.

We know that Defra wants to support this type of Farmer Environmental Cooperative and is keen to find mechanisms that work for farmers who wish to collaborate. 

Where will this ‘fair reward’ for Natural Capital goods and services come from?

We think from four areas:

  • Grants and funding for projects that usually go Environmental NGOs. By working together, with strong environmental credentials, as a legal entity, SWEF should be eligible for many of these grants.
  • Creating better opportunity to benefit from the ELM. We will be asking Defra for this to be support not just for restoration, but maintenance and protection of existing good habitat and species numbers as well.
  • New environmental trades, which might be biodiversity net gain and carbon, nutrient reduction, natural flood management. These ‘rewards’ are probably medium term and require careful scrutiny to ensure members are not ‘selling’ something they might need themselves (i.e. carbon to offset their own farming operations) or diminishing freehold value due to the long-term nature of some of these arrangements.
  • Private sector finance wishing to invest in good environmental outcomes, which is called green finance or ESG (a term used by corporates and stands for Environmental, Social and Governance) to offset the impact and dependence that they have on the natural environment in which they operate.

Will the SWEF be credible when it comes to attracting funding?

Based on the experience of other groups, we believe so, if it attracts a credible number of members. 

Further (very good) reading for the insomniac

The CLA has published an excellent guide to Natural Capital. Find it online here.