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  • Harriet Bell

Proposed ELMs advice model from Dartmoor Test & Trial

On Monday the 20th of July the Dartmoor ELMs Advisory Team discussed what the best system for providing the advice farmers might need to deliver ELMs would be. You can read their discussion in a previous blog but below is the model that developed from that discussion.

There are also a couple of questions at the end of the blog so you can tell us what you think of the proposal.

Starting point:

  • ELMs should be simple enough that it can be done by farmers without any advice if that’s what they wish.

  • The process is always farmer led, advisors are there to support/encourage/guide.

On home farms:

  • You have an ELMs Advisor working from the same body that funds/monitors ELMs. They’re available to you in year 1 to support you in putting your agreement together, they come back in year 2 to see how you’re getting on, then year 5 and x many years thereafter.

  • They can be contacted in case of serious problem, if needed, in the intervening period.

  • If the relationship between the ELMs Advisor and farmer becomes dysfunctional farmers can request a different ELMs Advisor.

  • Your ELMs Advisor, working with you, may identify where a bit of extra advice might uplift your public goods delivery. You get a limited amount of extra advice paid for by ELMs, for anything more farmers have to pay themselves.

  • For your extra advice there is a “recommended suppliers” list of public and private contractors who can offer additional/specialist advice. Some of them may be people like the archaeology officer, from DNPA, or they may be a private individual who does bat surveys, for example. They (or their organisation) have to pay to undergo ELMs training to qualify them to be on the list. This is to ensure that any advice they give is always contextualized within ELMs and within a “whole farm” approach to ensure holdings remain financially viable enterprises.

  • The list includes their bio/CV and farmers can leave reviews of advisors they’ve used (think Amazon product reviews).

  • The list is co-created between the central ELMs delivery body and farmers i.e. farmers can suggest advisors for the list. Regionally specific sub-lists are available e.g. there is a Dartmoor list of recommended advisors.

For Tier 2 or Commons:

  • The ELMs Advisor role remains the same.

  • Ideally ELMs Advisors cross over both the Tier 2/Commons groups and then are also the advisor for that group's individual home farm agreements.

  • Each member of the group, including non-active graziers, represents a certain amount of budget which their participation brings to the group. This is an annual budget to cover admin, facilitation and advice (because advice needed for home farms may be different for commons/Tier 2).

  • As with advisors there is a list of recommended facilitators who as well as having ELMs training have facilitation training.

Additional desirable extras:

  • Simple, clear written instructions on scheme delivery.

  • A central helpline manned by appropriately qualified staff.

  • A regular newsletter featuring case studies so people can learn from one another.

  • Practical workshops and farm visits which also support peer to peer learning (possibly more support for organisation like HFP who deliver such activities).

  • A farmer to farmer mentoring scheme.

Additional context which may help but falls slightly outside of advice (and which we will undoubtedly discuss further at a later date):

  • If payment was made in arrears for public goods delivered, based on evidence provided, it might mitigate concern about advisors pushing farmers to be ambitious in what they commit to. This is because farmers wouldn’t be being paid on what they’ve committed to trying to deliver, just on what they demonstrably had delivered. This would enable farmers to set ambitious targets for themselves but to do so secure in the knowledge that, if they don’t achieve them immediately, the RPA won’t come knocking asking for a lot of money back.

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