Agri-Environmental Governance Post-Brexit : Co-production of policy frameworks

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

The UK's decision to leave the European Union represents the most substantial change in the governance of UK agricultural land use since the UK's incorporation into the EU's Common Agricultural Policy(CAP) in 1973. This could affect approximately 218 000 agricultural holdings and involve a potentially radical change in the management and governance of 72% of the UK's land.

To achieve the UK government's vision of a 'Green Brexit' (Defra, 2018), a new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme is in the process of being devised. This will mean that the c.£2.3bn of annual payments to UK farmers will be based upon the principle of 'public money for public goods' (e.g. enhanced biodiversity and improved soil, water and air quality), replacing the current EU CAP system that allocates payments based upon the amount of land owned by the claimant. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) - which is the government department responsible for devising and delivering the post-Brexit ELM - has stated that this new policy will be developed in collaboration with stakeholders. In order to contribute to the development of this scheme, this project will work with Defra and multiple stakeholders to develop and test a model for 'co-producing' the post-Brexit ELM scheme. This will improve our understanding of the ways by which the principles and practices of co-production can be applied to help create more effective government policy and identify ways to collaboratively involve the people and organisations most affected by the policy changes at all stages of the process.

To help design, deliver and evaluate the post-Brexit ELM policy development process, this project will:

1. Bring together international case studies and academic, policy and stakeholder expertise to understand and develop more effective ways to co-produce the post-Brexit Environmental Land Management policy;
2. Work with active ELM trial projects (through participatory research) to understand 'what works' in terms of governance, participation and how this new approach functions in practice;
3. Involve stakeholders from individual farm level through to Non-Governmental Organisations, industry and policy (including the Devolved Administrations) via workshops and policy labs to help critique and refine the ELM policy;
4. Reflect on how useful this model of co-production is in creating new government policies and in producing impactful academic research

The findings of this research will be relevant to the UK Government, agricultural and environmental organisations and to the individuals - primarily farmers and land managers - as they adjust to the reformed relationships that will result from the UK's exit from the EU.

Planned Impact

The aim of this project is to understand and develop new principles and practices of co-production and investigate how they can be deployed to help design, deliver and evaluate the post-Brexit Environmental Land Management policy development process. Users and beneficiaries have been involved at the concept and development stage of the proposal and the programme of research has been designed to facilitate co-production of knowledge and outcomes with users throughout the process.

The transition to a new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme has fundamental implications for the UK government in terms of its perceived ability to deliver a workable and effective policy (including financial, reputational and political risks); stakeholder groups in responding to and enacting changes as the policy develops; and for users such as individual farmers and land managers for whom reform has far-reaching socio-economic consequences.

Beneficiaries from this research include:

Government: The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and a key delivery partner (Natural England) have been involved since the project's inception and will remain active collaborators and beneficiaries throughout the phases of work. For government and policymakers this project will provide a route to formulate a credible and integrated ELM policy based upon engagement with experts in the academic community, key stakeholder groups and individuals affected by the policy. The project will build capacity within Defra and arms-length environmental bodies like Natural England for a pragmatic and innovative form of co-production designed for deliberative and active policymaking environments. The co-production framework will be translatable to all policymaking areas across Government and Devolved Administrations where collaborative and active democratisation of public policy is a central element. This will ensure that project has the widest possible sustained impact.

Stakeholders: This project will ensure that stakeholder groups from across the agri-environmental spectrum (as owners of part of the farmed environment, implementers of policy or representatives of those actively managing the agri-environment) have a voice in developing the constitution of the new ELM. This will assist to fulfil the remit of these organisations in ensuring that decisions regulating the agri-environment continue to benefit conservation and wildlife activities, are environmentally sustainable and provide sustained social and economic benefits for their members and beyond. The opportunity to take part in the co-production of the ELM policy has been welcomed by our collaborators, recognising the potential for active contribution to the development of the ELM policy and the wider benefit to their organisations in learning from co-production methodologies to enhance their interactions with their memberships (see Letters of Support). Our collaborators - including the National Farmers' Union, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Country Land and Business Association - have substantial combined reach in terms of membership and their involvement in the research process will ensure that project outcomes are accessible to a wide range of relevant users and beneficiaries.

Users: The project findings will inform Defra's evidence base, ensuring that the voices of those most affected by the new policy - especially farmers and land managers - are heard within the process and will, therefore, benefit from this research. The provision of co-production toolkits to our collaborators (above) will also enable productive two-way dialogues and facilitate collaborative approaches between members and organisations as opposed to the more conventional models of top-down knowledge transfer.
 
Description 2 Researchers are Member of the Defra-Natural England Expert Panel on social science evidence for improving agri-environment outcomes
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Inclusive design of post-Brexit Agri-Environmental policy: identifying and engaging the 'harder to reach' stakeholders
Amount £19,000 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Department Research England
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 03/2020
 
Description Inclusive design of post-Brexit Agri-Environmental policy: identifying and engaging the 'harder to reach' stakeholders 
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Project objectives: 1. To identify and locate (socially, geographically) the 'harder to reach' stakeholders for ELM through desk-based research and expert interviews. 2. To understand why they are harder to reach and identify the main barriers to engagement. 3. To identify channels to reach these potential participants and ensure their views / experiences / needs and response to agricultural and environmental policies are represented in research and stakeholder engagement. 4. To support policy makers in utilising this research to inform their development of the ELM policy. We co-designed this short piece of research with Defra ELM evidence and stakeholder engagement teams to address a high priority research and practice need. We appointed two further short-term RAs to complete the activities outlined below. Project activities: 1. Meta-review of literature on identifying the 'hard to reach' communities, drawing upon academic and grey literature from agricultural and wider stakeholder research. 2. Interviews with relevant organisations and agencies, including Defra, Natural England, EA, NFU 3. Workshops in two agricultural communities that will be affected by changes to agri-environmental policies.
Collaborator Contribution Defra helped to co-design the project, outlining areas of research interest. They have also attended some research meetings to discuss key questions and discuss interim project outcomes.
Impact The outcomes are pending.
Start Year 2020
 
Description 'Cereals' Agricultural Show 2019 (Lincolshire) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Two team members spent two days at the 'Cereals' Agricultural Show in Lincolnshire (10-11 June 2019). We had an info stall in the tent of the Institute for Sustainable Food (Sheffield University). For the event, we held a participatory activity with farmers and other show attendees, which included a brief opinion poll on agricultural policy co-design. The activity sparked lots of informative discussions with over 40 passerby's and led to the collection of 14 opinion-cards (13 from farmers, 1 from a postgraduate students). Useful contacts were established also established with members from Defra and the National Farmers Union (NFU). An interview was conducted at the event with a policy representative of the NFU. The project PI, Ruth Little, delivered four talks over the two days, which attracted an audience of about 30 people in total. Total visitors to our tent were estimated at 400 by the event organizer from the Institute for Sustainable Food.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description BBC Oxford - segment on Env. & Agric. Bills Broadcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact BBC Oxford - segment on Env. & Agric. Bills Broadcast
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description BBC South Today - Film 'Post-Brexit food prices and agricultural policy' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact BBC South Today - Film 'Post-Brexit food prices and agricultural policy'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Broadcast BBC Radio 4 Contribution to the 'Farming Today' Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Broadcast BBC Radio 4 Contribution to the 'Farming Today' Programme on the Environment Bill
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Contribution SURE Farm workshop / CCRI /University of Gloucestershire 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invitation to contribute to a SURE Farm workshop / CCRI /University of Gloucestershire. This stimulated useful discussions and debates and led to lots of questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Defra ELM Co-design Workshop Irwell 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I attended a the Defra ELM Co-design Workshop in Irwell to help with note-taking. I also used the opportunity to study the the co-design approach taken by the policymakers at the workshop and to engage with farmers and learn about their concerns about the new scheme. Attending the workshop also gave me an opportunity to tell farmers about our project and establish contacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Defra ELM Co-design Workshop South Lincolnshire 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participation of a research team member as notetaker at an Defra ELM Co-design Workshop South Lincolnshire. Networking and establishing contacts for the project. Participant observation of the co-design approach used by Defra to work on ELM with farmers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Defra ELM Co-design Workshop in Penrith 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I attended a the Defra ELM Co-design Workshop in Penrith to help with note-taking. I also used the opportunity to study the the co-design approach taken by the policymakers at the workshop and to engage with farmers and learn about their concerns about the new scheme. Attending the workshop also gave me an opportunity to tell farmers about our project and establish contacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Defra Expert Panel Away Days (2) & Farm Visits 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This two-day away day was organized by the UK Government's Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. Two research team members, including the PI, were invited to attend the event as members of Defra/Natural England's Joint Expert Panel on Social Science Evidence for Improving Agri-Environment Outcomes. We attended and workshop with policy makers in the evening to which we contributed and undertook several farm visits, meeting local farmers and farm collaborations (FWAG). This gave us an opportunity to make the aims and objectives of the project know, and we learnt about policy making and farmer collaborations, establishing useful contacts in the process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Defra/NE Expert Panel on Social Science Evidence for Improving Agri-Environment Outcomes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Two team members, including the PI Ruth Little, participated a Defra/NE Expert Panel on Social Science Evidence for Improving Agri-Environment Outcomes meetings in London in February. We commented on policy documents and strategy proposals and advised policy makers on ways forward for the codesign process of the new Environmental Land Management Scheme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Defra/NE Expert Panel on Social Science Evidence for Improving Agri-Environment Outcomes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Two team members, including the PI Ruth Little, participated in 2 Defra/NE Expert Panel on Social Science Evidence for Improving Agri-Environment Outcomes meetings in London (February and November 2019). We commented on policy documents and strategy proposals and advised policy makers on ways forward for the codesign process of the new Environmental Land Management Scheme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited conference presentation "Food and Brexit - Where Now?" at City University, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk to around 40 academics and NGO representatives. The aim of the talk was to make a difference with NGO's. Interesting questions and discussions followed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Land Management 2.0 'Transforming the Future of Land Management' Conference London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participation in workshop activities designed to inform the conference organizers on views about the future of environmental land management in the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://landmanagement20.squarespace.com/
 
Description N8 IFarm Dairy Visit Cumbria 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a farm visit to Cumbria organized by the N8 Research Partnership, Lancaster University. We learnt about intelligent farming and the use of technologies such as precision farming for environmentally friendly farming.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Natural Capital Management for Rural Professionals Training Course 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Organized by the Ecosystems Knowledge Network, this was a training course on Natural Capital Management for Rural Professionals. A research team member attended the course to learn about this approach to valuing nature, which is becoming ever more influential in environmental land management. This will help address questions farmers might have about this at our participatory events in the future. Useful connections were also made and two interviews with national stakeholders secured.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ecosystemsknowledge.net/2020/1/10/book-now-training-courses
 
Description Presentation International Congress on Conservation Biology, Malaysia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference presentation given to a large audience at the International Congress on Conservation Biology, Malaysia. Lots of interesting discussions sparked and contacts made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://conbio.org/conferences/about-scb-meetings/past-iccbs/
 
Description Public Lecture -Valuing Nature Network, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Public Lecture delivered to the Valuing Nature Network, London. New contacts made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Roundtable Discussion Innovation, Food Future & Generational Justice - Sheffield University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Participation at a Roundtable Discussion. The event was intended to make a difference with NGOs and to share information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://justfoodfutures2019.wordpress.com/programme/
 
Description Talk - Sustainable Food - A Systems Approach for EU Policy / White Rose Brussels Office 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation given on Sustainable Food - A Systems Approach for EU Policy / White Rose Brussels Office. Involved EU DG participants and led to useful policy discussions and insights.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk - US-UK Scientific Forum on Sustainable Agriculture Org. National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact US-UK Scientific Forum on Sustainable Agriculture Org. National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society - talk given, followed by discussions. Networking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Talk 54th Agricultural Club Conference, University of Reading 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 54th Agricultural Club Conference, University of Reading - Panel discussant, contributed to debate. Interesting discussions sparked and lots of questions!
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Talk British Veterinary Association 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk given to the British Veterinary Association. Useful discussions about the future of environmental land management in the UK
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk given at Uni Reading, Soil Research Centre Annual Conference, on co-design 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Uni Reading, Soil Research Centre Annual Conference, Co-design - Knowledge exchange and networking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Transdisciplinary Lab ETH Zurich, Switzerland Invited Seminar Talk and Presentation & Networking 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A researcher from the tam spent three days at the Transdisciplinary Lab ETH Zurich in Switzerland where she had been invited to run a seminar on participatory research methods and present a talk about the ESRC post-Brexit agri-environmental governance project. The visit also provided an opportunity to do research on the case study of Switzerland, which forms part of our project and to establish contacts for future collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://tdlab.usys.ethz.ch/about/events/bb-meetings.html
 
Description University of Sweden Guest Seminars Given and Invited Talks & Networking 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU/UMEA) - seminar held with academics and students on policy co-design, guest lecture delivered. Networking and establishing of contacts useful for the project. Learning about co-design from practitioners in other countries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020