DEFRA has announced new proposals to link the Entry Level Stewardship scheme (ELS) to the Single Farm Payment (SFP) in a bid to increase uptake, which could be good news for landowners and shoots looking to plant covercrops for wild birds.

Under the revised cross-compliance proposals, English landowners will still be allowed to farm productively, but will also be encouraged to adopt environmental production methods, such as planting covercrops.

“As Hilary Benn said recently in his speech to the Oxford Farming Conference,
we do not want to reintroduce set-aside,” said a DEFRA spokesperson, adding:
“However, he stressed that the way food is grown must sustain and safeguard our environment. We are continuing to explore how best to implement an option that would require arable farmers to manage a small percentage of their land for the environment. The current proposals list a range of management options, including game strips.”

Exact proposals are yet to be finalised, as is the amount of land involved but landowners who refuse to abide by the new rules risk losing some or all of their SFP.

The rest of this article appears in 22 January issue of Shooting Times.

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