Written evidence submitted by The English Organic Forum (ELM0023)


The English Organic Forum is a member of the Defra ELM Engagement Group (EEG) and represents the organic sector. We have participated actively in the EEG from the beginning. 


These brief comments are specifically related to the way in which organic farming should be included within the ELM policy. Organic is an approach to land management that operates at a whole farm (whole system) level. There is good evidence for the delivery of Public Goods from organic farming (see https://online.flipbuilder.com/exei/xjft/).


We have repeatedly put the opportunity to Defra, but so far have not had any positive response. This is perplexing in view of the positive position taken by Minister Prentis in her statement to the House on 25th January, where she said: "We will use the Agriculture Act 2020 to set an ambitious new course for the organic sector.” We welcome this ambition but have so far not seen details or evidence for it. 

At a recent meeting with Minister Jayawardena, which focussed on the export trade opportunities for organic food, it is necessary to encourage more organic production in England. There is also a growing domestic market for organic that  must be met. In either case the ELM policy represents a key tool to achieve this, and thus achieve the Governments intent for the organic sector, whilst also delivering the public goods that are the policy objective.    

1.  Is the Government’s timeframe for the national pilot, full roll-out of ELM and phasing out direct payments by 2027 feasible?

2. Will the Sustainable Farming Incentive be a viable support measure for farmers before the full roll-out of ELM? Is further support required during the transition period?

3.  How effectively has Defra engaged with land managers and other stakeholders on the design of ELM, including on the transitional arrangements?

4.  How can ELM be made an attractive business choice for farmers and land managers while effectively delivering its policy goals?

5.  How can the Government ensure that ELM agreements achieve their intended environmental outcomes, reduce bureaucratic burdens on farmers and deliver value for money?

6.  What lessons should be learned from the successes and failures of previous schemes paying for environmental outcomes?

January 2021