CFE boosted by ELS renewals 

NINE out of ten farmers whose Entry Level Stewardship agreement is due to expire in July have indicated their desire to continue, according to Natural England. 

The news is a boost to the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) which aims to retain the benefits of set-aside through voluntary measures.

One key aim of the Campaign is to retain 90 per cent of existing ELS agreements.

A failure to achieve environmental gains through voluntary uptake of schemes such as ELS could result in the Government introducing mandatory cross-compliance rules.

Just over 13,000 ELS agreements are due to expire this year with 5,200 of those due to expire on July 31.

A Natural England survey revealed 89 per cent of those agreements due to expire in July would be renewed.

Andrea Graham, NFU countryside adviser, said it was a ‘good sign’ and urged farmers to continue with the ‘good work’.  

“2010 is a crucial year for the success of ELS and importantly it will be vital for the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.

“We are aiming to get as many farmers to renew their ELS as possible and 90 per cent is on target,” she said. She urged all farmers, whether renewing or entering ELS for the first time, to use more ‘in-field’ type options within the scheme.

She added an ‘improved on-line facility’ would help to smooth the application process for ELS agreements this year.

Apart from renewal of agreements, Ms Graham also highlighted the importance of getting new farmers into ELS from the old classic schemes such as the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme.

She added the new Uplands ELS was another important scheme which would benefit the CFE.

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