The future of the proposed scheme, which was to replace the EU system after Brexit, is now uncertain. Many from the agroecological farming and growing sector, such as Land Workers Alliance and Sustain, are very concerned about the implications of any reversal of policy. According to Sustain:
“Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini-budget’ and wider announcements in September set huge alarm bells ringing in the farming and environment sectors. These were fuelled by rumours that Defra were considering a return to old style farm subsidies, paid per hectare occupied, while ditching the new and revolutionary Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes for England – schemes that have been 5 years in development.” Both LWA and Sustain have supported the ELMS. Though flawed, it is a great improvement on the previous scheme both for agroecological farmers and growers and the environment.
“We want to be clear that the Landworkers’ Alliance, as a union of farmers and foresters, is fully supportive of ELMS, believing that we can produce food in a way that regenerates the environment. We have been active in co-designing measures to pay for soil management, horticulture, nutrient management, integrated pest management, agroforestry while lobbying for further payments to small farms and public engagement. We will remain involved in the development of an effective ELMS for a just transition to a secure food supply that doesn’t destroy the environment.”
There are certainly flaws in ELMs according to LWA and Sustain. It is seriously underfunded and communication and support for farmers has been poor. It also does not include smaller farms, horticulture and peri-urban farms. According to Sustain:
“ELM was far from perfect. It has problems. It’s complex, has taken ages to get off the ground, pays too little, is unviable for most smaller farms, silos out specific ‘assets’ of a farm, and is not accessible in a useful way for many farmers and growers. It also does not have enough ambition or budget to match the scale of need on our depleted lands and environment. And of course, it also can’t fix the broken food system – where too little value reaches the farm – on its own. We need many other measures for that.”
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To sure your support for a radically different food system support the demo on October 15th.