Corndonford ELMs Farmer Meeting
On Monday the 24th of August about a dozen farmers gathered at a social distance in a barn to talk through ELMs. These are the notes from that discussion.
Host: Charlotte Faulkner
Facilitator: Joss Hibbs
Q1 What would you like to see supported within the theme of protect and enhance the environment?
Butterflies e.g. Marsh fritillary, litle blue
Birds e.g. cuckoos, buzzards, curlew, pheasant, lapwing, migrant birds
Spitchwick common beetle
Plants e.g. orchids, species rich grasslands, marsh species, lichens
Q2 What would you like to see supported within the theme of promoting public access, enjoyment of the land and understanding?
Paradox is people and biodiversity conflict
Something which measures cars coming through [Dartmoor]
Enable greater access to farm space as a facility, more taylored individual expereince
Farm visits/guided walks
Anything educational, teaching people more about where their food comes from
Who would you go to for advice on this?
Soil for Profit
We could form our own advisory committee
Create learning sites around Dartmoor
Dartmoor Hill Farm Project
The trouble is the advisors all have their own agendas and often disagree
Institute of Grassland Environmental Research
Q4 What would you like to see supported within the theme of cultural and natural heritage?
Kists and cairns
House, barns and walled gardens from different periods in history
Skills like hedge laying and walling
Q5 What would you like to see supported within the theme of soil?
Appropriate soil depends on what someone wants from the land
Soil managed for outcomes such as desired plants
Water retention – introduction of beavers
The scheme, if they want take up, is that is has to be simple and the price has to be right
If we're already doing all of this they never say we're ahead of the curve
Q6 What would you like to see supported in terms of native livestock and equines?
Q7 What would you like to see supported within the theme of plant health – crops wild relatives of agricultural and horticultural plants?
Q8 Who would you to for advice?
Devon Wildlife Trust
Doing what you're currently doing if it's working
Q9 How would you like to submit evidence under ELMs?
Photographs plus GPS
Agent will collate and submit
You need support every step of the way
Quadrats across the farm
Who is liable if you make changes based on advice which doesn't result in the right outcome?
The reason we've got the countryside we've got is because of generations who've wanted to be here and make it what it is. None of this reflects farming and if it is not what works for us we won't be here to do the job any more.
How do they feel about the average age of farming? What are they going to do if this puts off the next generation and just encourages farmers to retire? This could make it harder for new entrants.
Climate has a much bigger effect on butterflies than what farmers do. So how can we be expected to help them if the global population isn't looking after the climate?
One of the things that's not on there but should be is for more promotion of understanding of farming by the government to the general public.
It should be part of the curriculum.
We'd have school groups on our farms, insurance permitting.
Q9 If you could choose your paymaster who would it be?
Devon based body
Qualified, unbiased and supportive of farming
RPA isn't close enough to the ground to understan reality
RPA don't have enough staff
RPA are docussing too much on computers, so they can't have the discernment of a person
They'd need to be responsive
The people who hand out the scheme should be collecting in the evidence
A specialist evaluating Dartmoor specifically
The right body doesn't exist
The body should be made up of a representative cross section of Dartmoor
But this scheme isn't about farming?
We need conservationists as well
People who know conservation and Dartmoor and farmers
Dissenting Voice (DV): Why do we need a new body?
They need to be reactive, understanding and not pedantic
In the past they always assume that we're trying to cheat the system, they're always waiting with a big stick
If you make an agreement with people they shouldn't be able to change the agreement on you