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Defra Secretary: a better, faster ELM for a more resilient farming sector

The Sustain Alliance and 26 organisations have written to environment Secretary, Ranil Jayawardena MP, showing support for the continuation of ELM and its budget, and using powers in the Agriculture Act to use emergency funding to deal with inflationary pressures that farmers and growers are facing.

Heritage Wheat Field, UK. Credit: Vicki Hird

Heritage Wheat Field, UK. Credit: Vicki Hird

Dear Secretary of State Ranil Jayawardena,

Environmental Land Management and the Agricultural Transition Plan 

First of all, the Sustain Alliance and the 24 organisations below would like to congratulate you on your recent appointment.

The UK Government’s flagship farming policy, Environmental Land Management (ELM), is crucial to food security, sustainable growth in agriculture, improving animal welfare, and the UK’s ability to keep rivers clean and tackle net zero.

It will also be a vital tool in reducing the reliance of farming businesses on costly inputs like fertiliser and pesticides and, in turn, helping the farming sector become far more resilient to global, climate and extreme weather events.

To do so, it is important to provide an approach to farming support that will deliver on ecosystem services (i.e. public goods) like improving soil structure and fertility, increasing biodiversity like pollinators and natural pest predators, increasing the water retention of soil, flood prevention, delivering landscape enhancement and cleaner water, and creating more public education and engagement opportunities.

The drought and heatwaves experienced in the UK this year are an example of the risks farmers face under the current approach to farming. For instance, vegetable growers had produce rejected due to stunted growth and livestock farmers started to use up silage and haylage that was meant for the winter months.

Furthermore, the three ELM schemes can equally play their part in helping the Government meet climate and nature commitments.The decision to take a ‘public money for public goods’ approach to farming support is revered around the world and the UK were being viewed as a world leader in this regard.

Here are our following policy proposals:

  • Defra continues with the current Agricultural Transition Plan timeframe. 
  • Defra rolls out the three ELM schemes as quickly as possible and aims to increase ambition and budget over time. 
  • Defra maintains its commitment to a land use framework.
  • Government considers emergency funds for farmers in response to specific issues, as set out in part two of the Agriculture Act 2020.

We would very much welcome the opportunity to meet you in the coming weeks and months to discuss in more detail on how we can support you in the roll out of ELM.

Yours sincerely,

Kath Dalmeny 
Chief Executive, Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming 
Matt Browne
Head of Policy and Advocacy, Wildlife and Countryside Link
Martin Lines
UK Chair, Nature Friendly Farming Network
Thomas Lancaster
Head of Farming and Land Management Policy, RSPB
Harry Bowell
Director of Land and Nature, National Trust
Gareth Morgan
Head of Farming and Land Use Policy, Soil Association
Roger Kerr
CEO, Organic Farmers & Growers CIC
Jyoti Fernandes
Horticulture Campaigns Coordinator, Landworkers Alliance
Jimmy Woodrow
Executive Director, Pasture for Life
Josie Cohen
Head of Policy and Campaigns, Pesticide Action Network UK
Dan Crossley
Executive Director, Food Ethics Council
Jill Attenborough
CEO, Country Trust
Paul Miner
Acting Director of Campaigns and Policy at CPRE, the countryside charity
Matthew Orman
Director, Sustainable Soils Alliance
Robert Fraser
Executive Director, Real Farming Trust
Suzy Russell
Coordinator, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Network UK
Miles King
CEO, People Need Nature
Christopher Price
Chief Executive Office, Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Pete Ritchie
Executive Director, Nourish Scotland
Philip Lymbery
GLOBAL CEO, Compassion in World Farming
James Skinner
Founder Trustee, Conservation Farming Trust
Bev Clarkson
National Officer for Food and Drink, Unite the Union
James Allen
Founder, Dung Beetles for Farmers
Cóilín Nunan
Scientific Adviser, Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics
Nicola Hutchinson
Director of Conservation, Plantlife International
Katherine Rosen
CEO, The Orchard Project
James Morford
Chairman, Family Farmers' Association

Published Thursday 6 October 2022

Sustainable Farming Campaign: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.

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