What makes schemes work from farmers’ perspectives

For those of you who could not join the RBAPS conference in Brussels at the end of September and for those who did and have more to say, we would like to encourage your contributions to the discussion we had on identifying what works from a farmers’ perspective.
The discussion focused particularly on:
– how best to engage farmers in results-based schemes,
– what makes a scheme attractive, and
– the nature of the advice and support needed.

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What appeals to farmers?

Farmers in the room argued that a results-based scheme needs to appeal to a farmers’ sense of pride and responsibility. Joining a scheme must be perceived as more than having to comply with scheme requirements. If biodiversity can be viewed as a farm product this can generate a sense of pride in protecting or actively managing specific species and habitats.

The value of using labels and competitions to develop this sense of pride and responsibility among farmers was highlighted as well as its usefulness in spreading the word. The French “Prairies Fleuries” scheme, which hosts a major competition each year, has become popular with farmers in large part thanks to this competition. Involving the media and raising the profile of the biodiversity on farms with the general public, for example through local events and demonstration farms, were also considered important.

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What makes a scheme attractive to farmers?

Participants stressed that all agri-environment schemes – not just those that are results-based- need to be voluntary and offer continuity (five to seven years commitment – or longer) to make them attractive. Important aspects of design for results-based schemes were identified as:

• Clarity about the scheme objectives, about how to achieve them and how they relate to the payment (including risk of non-payment).

• Freedom within the scheme to manage land and for farmers to take their own initiative and change management according to the situation.

• Stability and security in relation to the payment – there should be flexibility within the payment to adjust according to market fluctuations affecting the costs incurred by the farmer. Even with clarity about the associated risks of non-payment, a buffer to reduce the risk would make the scheme more attractive to farmers, for example having graduated payment levels depending on the level of results achieved.

• Fair payment in relation to the amount of work expected and requirements set out under other CAP payments. The payment should reflect the balance between effort and changes in management that are needed and include transaction costs.

 

What is important in terms of advisory support?

Participants noted that advisory support is often better accepted when given between peers, farmer to farmer. However, developing a sense of partnership between farmers, farm advisors and researchers was also seen as important and a good way of building greater commitment to achieving scheme objectives. One specific point emphasised was the need to integrate the advice from ecologists within the context of practical farming operations and to improve ecologists’ understanding of the realities of farming. Lastly, it was stressed that advice needs to be well-coordinated between government departments to avoid the risk of conflicting advice.

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What other factors do you think are needed to make results-based schemes work for farmers? We are keen to hear your views.

State-of-the-art thinking on results-based schemes

On 23-24 September we will be hosting an interactive conference in Brussels to share understanding and knowledge about results-based payment schemes across EU Member States and EFTA countries.

Ninety participants will attend this two-day event from a diverse range of stakeholders, representing 25 EU and EFTA countries across the farming and environment communities along with national authorities and other institutional bodies. Over the course of the two days participants are invited to discuss the value of results-based payment schemes for the delivery of biodiversity and wider environmental and agronomic benefits, and contribute towards the identification of key issues for successful design and implementation. In addition to presentations from seminal experts on the topic, participants are invited to engage in targeted debate through a panel discussion and breakout sessions.

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The conference programme is available on the results-based agri-environment payment schemes webpages and we will be posting information live from the event through twitter (#rbaps). The presentations and outcomes of the conference will be made available via the project platform and we hope that the discussion will continue here on our blog!

Sharing agri-environment knowledge

Results-based agri-environment schemes – a new project to share knowledge

This project – initiated and funded by the European Parliament and managed by DG Environment – brings together information and experiences from across the EU and beyond on agri-environment type schemes that have been designed to focus on paying farmers, other land managers or local communities for the biodiversity results they deliver. A number of different ways of going about this have been trialled in different countries and these are brought together in an online inventory, explaining their aims, the way they work and what they have achieved so far. In reviewing these schemes, the research team have spoken with many farmers as well as the people who designed and implement the schemes to find out their main benefits and where they are appropriate and where not as well. Key factors of success and barriers to implementation have also been identified.

The project is generating a range of materials to help those interested in developing results-based agri-environment schemes. You will be able to find a practical handbook providing guidelines on how to go about designing a results-based scheme, from design to implementation to monitoring and evaluation. A series of videos have been produced to demonstrate how these types of schemes are operating in different countries, showing examples of good practice and including views from farmers and those running the schemes.

On 23-24 September a conference will be held in Brussels to showcase the range of results-based schemes already existing in the EU and to discuss ways that this type of approach might become more widespread in the future. Information on this and all presentations will also be available on our web platform.

If you are interested in results-based approaches for delivering biodiversity outcomes, already involved in a scheme or thinking about developing one, we would love to hear from you. Please join our community by contributing to this blog and/or visiting our platform. You might also let us know if there is anything additional you would like to see on this site? If you are still a little confused about how these schemes differ from other agri-environment schemes read the next blog post which should shed some light on this.

Welcome to our Blog

Exchanging information and practical experience on payments for biodiversity achievements in agriculture

Find out about the latest thinking on existing results-based agri-environment schemes, their design, implementation and monitoring. Hear what practitioners have to say and exchange views on how to design and implement schemes in different parts of the EU. Register to receive updates and the latest research findings and to comment on posts.

Across Europe, agri-environment schemes provide important sources of funding to farmers to protect wildlife habitats on agricultural land. Results-based agri-environment payment schemes focus on paying farmers for the biodiversity outcomes that are achieved rather than rewarding them for specific management actions. This Blog has been created to exchange information and practical experiences on these approaches. It offers a platform on which findings and reflections from a research project can be shared. The project is managed by DG Environment; it was initiated and is funded by the European Parliament.

Want to know more about these schemes then read our blog posts or visit the web platform