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Group of people on a hillside

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Jenny Walking Sheep Up Street

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Beekeepers examining a frame of bees

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  • Harriet Bell

Selecting a scorecard

At their virtual meeting on the 16th of July the Dartmoor farmer led Advisory Team, supporting the test and trial, came to a decision about the best Land Management Plan approach for Dartmoor. This is how farmers indicate what public goods they'll be delivering on their land in order to support payment.

The team went for a farmer led mapping approach, with an accompanying scorecard system, supported by advice. So now we need to work through each of these elements to develop the detail.

These are the notes from the first Advisory Team discussion on scorecards which took place on Thursday 30th July.

Prior to the meeting the team were given two questions to reflect on:

Q1 - Do people see the scorecard as a tool to inform decision making, like the Public Goods tool that’s previously been presented, or do people see using a scorecard as essentially saying that all of ELMs should be delivered on a “Payments by Results” basis?

A project paper on payments by results was circulated to accompany this question (and is also available on the website,) in order help people distinguish between the options posed by the question as they determined their answer.

Q2 - Do people want a scorecard created from scratch or would people prefer to take an existing model and adapt it?

Conclusion from the discussion:

In response to the first question the Advisory Team decided they wished to merge two of the Dartmoor Test & Trials research strands, "Land Management Plan" and "Payments by results", into one - an approach to delivering the whole of ELMs entirely through a (likely hybrid) payments by results approach. However, it has been re-christened as a "Payments by past and present results" approach in order to emphasize that existing public goods, present on farms, should be valued.

In response to the second question the Advisory Team will look at using an existing public goods scorecard and adapting/altering it to ensure it works appropriately for Dartmoor/Uplands farming.

Advisory Team discussion notes:

  • So I had a flick through the public goods tool, power point. I think that the key thing we’ve all been discussing is that every farm is different and every part of Dartmoor is different. Pin pointing outcomes isn’t necessarily going to be particularly good for business or the environment. However a scorecard could be a tool to help tweak and improve but I don’t think we can pay on just the scorecard but on a blend of options. I do think the spatial one is really interesting as a tool to see potential opportunities and strengths. With the aid of an advisor it could be really good. If there’s a possibility of that tool helping non-ELMs related areas of the wider business then we may as well stick it in an use it.

  • The scorecard is a way of acquiring points for whatever you’re doing and I’m happy enough to be paid on that basis because it encourages that work. I liked the public goods tool and the way it easily depicted the outcomes.

  • I’m looking at this possibly too simplistically. Our biggest single issue at the moment is trying to create something which suits all across the national park, simple and understandable. The scorecard system lends itself, I don’t think we’ve necessarily been looking at the right ones, I think they should portray a range of options within the farm system with payments for different levels and a premium payment at the top. The scorecard system certainly looks to be the right way forward, the land management plan falls within that, there has to be a plan specific to an area which delivers what’s best for that area. That plan should be placed within a scorecard system that enables farmers to make a science and commercial based decision. That’s hugely complex and requires an awful lot of time and effort and resource but is probably the most simple to operate. We can’t sit around tonight and do that. Ideally if there’s something on the shelf take it off the shelf and test it in a Dartmoor context. I would be happy for my whole payment to be delivered through a scorecard based approach.

  • Looking at the Hen Harrier Project they use three ways to pay, even though it’s a PBR approach. They score on different habitat types so those models are there for us to use.

  • Thinking about the things we do know, we do know what the public goods are. I feel slightly blind folded because I don’t know what the specific problem is we’re supposed to tackle to I don’t know how to get my brain in gear to approach that. If there’s been work done like the Hen Harrier Project then you know it will deliver the other public goods in order to deliver that. So that sort of thing is great to be able to take things from.

  • I thought for a minute we were on the right track but I think as soon as we start talking about the public goods and what they get paid for but the first 4/5 steps of the scorecard for me are about us being here and what we’ve got and our years of past work in past schemes and the value of what we’re currently delivering. Having a Land Management Plan could be a step in the process, public goods could be level 5/6/7 that recognise the costs and commitment of delivering that, 7/8/9 tier 2 and 9/10 tier 3. So we’re doing something to include people in the process and then keep them going in the process. None of our farms are the same but they have common elements like being pasture based systems but how we achieve what we’re going to achieve we can do in different ways. If anyone wants to go beyond that they can take it beyond that and have it assessed. If we’re making a genuine effort, it can be a very slow process to deliver change so we need to recognise what we’re doing in order to establish a core payment. I know what I’m doing, I know how I’m doing it and I know what I want to see out there. Your assessor might decide that there’s something on your farm you could do a bit different and their advice might raise you one bar up the ladder and increase your payment a bit. I don’t agree about the points because the points system we tried in previous schemes and being a few points short can be very frustrating. I don’t think we should get caught up in the minutiae. I’m happy to be assessed I don’t want to be measured. Once you’ve got that list of things you can do, decide what you can deliver and how you can deliver it and attribute the public goods to what you’re doing.

  • I agree with about we’ll get to the public goods but too delivery in a different way. Trying to simplify it the easiest thing would be to draw all the public goods scorecards together and pick a couple to try.

  • Following on from the point around the scorecards I think payment by results is right but there has to be provision for capital works and a bonus for good results wrapped up. We need a broad-church for delivering public goods. Ultimately we’re turkeys voting for Christmas we have a system that has been entirely geared towards production and now we’re in a situation of change where our livelihoods are at risk and we need to get this right. It’s going to be a huge challenge getting it right. I would envision all of us here being on at least 4/5 to 9/10 on a scorecard system and the opportunity there is to evolve our model according to what suits our farming business. It’s about a transparent and robust system which delivers for us all, including the ability to educate our customers about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. The scope of looking for where scorecards exist should be an extensive trawl in order to combine the very best.

  • Picking up on a few points. I think it is really important that there is payment there for capital works, I think I’m very nervous about anything which is dependent on species turning up. The Hen Harrier one is interesting because that’s a bonus for the species turning up. I think what’s important is the proportion of money attributed to different levels within a scorecard. I’m a fan of what they’ve done in the Burren and in Ireland generally. The framework that they use in Ireland seems to work for a variety of different models so I for one would be in favour of looking at their approach.

  • Just a couple of observations about the Burren which was that their scheme was very popular with the farmers. However, I don’t think we should be afraid of creating our own because Dartmoor is distinct. I think one off the most important things should be that if you’re in an LFA that is valued and we need to revisit and remind Defra how crucial and important the LFA area is. We don’t have the wherewithal to change what we do like the lowland guys have, we’re stuck with what our land can produce so we need to remind them all how important LFA is.

  • I think you can still have levels 1 to 10 for anywhere in the UK, you’d just be scoring on different attributes.

  • I’m just going to point out that Ireland has a very different tenancy structure. Also results are not always in our power to give so maintenance is important.

  • It is imperative that we create an upland specific scorecard but we need to choose the items which we can be scored against. We need to choose what works for us. I liked the idea of measuring lower down the food chain, things like the dung beetle. A blank scorecard with items selected for your farm and list them yourself but then you’re moving away from something that’s universally acceptable. What maters is they have to work for the uplands.

  • The Burren may not be perfect it’s just a starting point. An important part of results is direction of travel, which can take 5, 10, 15 years but payments so we need to recognise the direction of travel.

  • In speaking to some of the farmers I think it’s really important that in talking payments by results we make it clear that it’s not just new results, that it will value past results as well.

  • All of the Irish schemes there is no requirement to move up the scheme.

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