Region’s farmers support green campaign
Conducted by the Suffolk-based National Farm Research Unit (NFRU), the survey found that half of all eligible farmers have joined the entry-level stewardship scheme, with 7% of farmers in high-level stewardship.
A further 19% of English farmers said that they planned to implement such a scheme in the future, according to the survey, which saw researchers quiz 2643 farmers across the country.
When it comes to renewing entry-level agreements, farmers in East Anglia (77%), the south-east (78%) and the north-east (79%) showed more enthusiasm than other regions, although renewal levels in most areas were above 70%.
The survey also found that farmers were most likely to upgrade to higher-level stewardship in the eastern region (20%), the north-east (20%) and the south-east (31%).
Researchers also quizzed farmers about the Campaign for the Farmed Environment – the industry-led initiative aimed at staving off a compulsory set-aside replacement (see box).
Awareness of the campaign was highest in East Anglia and the south-east (both 78%), followed by the East Midlands (76%). Some 42% of East Anglian farmers said they would take action under the campaign over the next year.
The regional figures are higher than national survey results which indicate that only 68% of all farmers in England know about the campaign. Nationally, just 35% of farmers said they planned to take campaign action.
“It indicates to me that there is still work to be done to promote the uptake of this particular voluntary scheme,” said Jim Williams, the research unit’s marketing and communications director.
Depending on what the “don’t knows” ended up doing, this could be shy of the national target figure, which had been set at 70% of farm land in England being under environmental stewardship by March 2011.
Nationally, only 18% of farmers who were aware of the campaign said that they would be implementing it on their farm this year, with 9% saying they would implement it immediately and 8% planning action next year.
Some 9,000 postcards have been sent to farmers across the region, explaining how they can get involved with the campaign.
It’s part of a major awareness drive that kicked off with a strong presence at last month’s Cereals 2010 event. Farm walks are also being organised to show the campaign working in practice.
Regional coordinator Elizabeth Ranelagh said: “What happens at a local level will be fundamental to the success of the campaign, which is why we are asking farmers across the region to play their part.
“We are entering a crucial period, with many farmers looking to renew their entry level environmental stewardship agreements or thinking about what voluntary measures they can adopt.”