Environmental Farmers Group does what it says on the label – and a bit more. We’re a new company set up by farmers for farmers, so that they can work together to improve their farmed environment and trade confidently with business and commercial organisations seeking the new tools of
- Biodiversity credits
- Nutrient (phosphate and nitrate) offsets
- Carbon trading
…in order to progress with their environmental obligations.
To put it very simply, it makes sense to have a group of accredited farmers ready to trade through a single hub. This makes it easier for both the farmer and the organisation seeking the trade.
Both sides only have to go to one place. One place to understand and explore the trade. One set of rules. One set of monitoring. One better environment. We’d be pleased to be called a trusted navigator in a complex world.
How did we start?
Last year, the new replacement schemes for the BPS seemed very complicated and uncertain, and farmers had little solid information to work off. Farmers were getting pretty concerned and needed to act. There was little real information to work off.
In July 2020, Minette Batters (President NFU) and Teresa Dent (CEO of Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust) suggested the concept to farmers in the catchment in a Teams meeting; that they consider building on the eight very successful Farmer Cluster-type groups already in the River Avon catchment area. There was another meeting in September 2020 to respond to continuing interest.
And then what?
A small Scoping Group was formed in April 2021, designed to test out ideas before submitting them to a Working Group of advisors and cluster farmers in June 2021. Those farmers and advisors agreed to open up these ideas to their individual groups.
We concentrated on the biodiversity, nutrient offset and carbon trading markets. Why? Because we were already getting significant approaches from commercial entities and local authorities and because they are highly complex and there are few guidelines. We felt we had the most to gain or lose there, both environmentally and financially.
What happened next?
We worked as a small Scoping Group, deciding what we knew and what we didn’t understand, challenging each other a bit, shaping our joint ideas, doing lots of investigation into the markets, and bringing on board new outside expertise from professionals.
The GWCT kindly provide the chief development and support services, with the NFU giving us guidance.
We shared ideas with Farmer Clusters in the autumn of 2021 and found a very warm reception. Having named and formed the Environmental Farmers Group within a short time through some intensive work, we feel that much progress has been made.