Observations And Lessons From The DEFRA Challenge Fund Pilot Scheme For Farmer Self-help Groups On Cross Compliance
The new Single Payment Scheme under the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union was introduced in the United Kingdom as of 1st January 2005. Farmer support is being switched away from a production basis to one which is both decoupled and more closely linked with maintaining the environment. In connection with this the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a pilot scheme, to be delivered by agricultural colleges and university departments in England, to investigate the use of farmer self-help groups to communicate cross-compliance requirements under the new scheme. Farmers were asked in a questionnaire to assess their reaction to the requirements. This provides an interesting insight into attitudes to cross-compliance at the time the meetings took place (November 2004 to March 2005). But there are also interesting lessons to be learned by Defra and their clients about the nature of the process. The Royal Agricultural College and Harper Adams University College were two out of 25 institutions that took part in the exercise and the authors share their experiences in the paper.
Keywords: Cross-compliance, single farm payment, Challenge Fund, group working, team working, Gloucestershire, Shropshire.