New rural support scheme for Jersey farmers could be a world first
Tuesday 14 February 09:04
A new Rural Economy Strategy for Jersey has been published.
The new Rural Economy Strategy 2017 – 2021 (RES) focuses on economic and environmental sustainability in the countryside. It proposes new policies to keep pace with changes in the rural economy and promote growth in the sector, to protect Jersey’s environment, and to ensure the impact of rural business on the wider environment and society is considered
The Department of the Environment and the Department for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture consulted farmers and countryside stakeholders as the plan was developed.
The plan proposes changes to the way rural businesses receive financial support from the States. The current approach, where farmers are paid for the area farmed, will change to providing financial support according to the environmental and social benefits they provide (known as ‘public goods’).
The current ‘Single Area Payment’ will evolve into the new Rural Support Scheme which promotes sustainable agriculture. The LEAF Global Standard marque is independently audited and will incentivise businesses to farm in the most economically and environmentally sustainable way.
It is expected that all farms receiving financial support from the States will be part of the LEAF Global standard within three years, and that Jersey could be the first jurisdiction in the world to achieve this across the entire farming sector.
Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Senator Lyndon Farnham said “The Rural Economy Strategy 2017 – 2021 marks a new phase for Jersey’s rural economy. It aims to balance the needs of the rural sector, government and the people of Jersey to grow the rural economy while safeguarding Jersey’s countryside, its character and the environment and in doing so, provide a sustainable and prosperous future for the industry.”
Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce said “Jersey’s rural economy is the backbone of our history, culture, habitat and landscape, our international reputation and our local sense of identity. The RES 2017 – 2021 takes account of a substantial amount of other work to protect and enhance our environment, such as the Countryside Access Strategy, the Coastal National Park Management Plan, and efforts to improve our water quality in the Water Management Plan, and it gives us a solid framework for a sustainable future.”
The RES 2017 – 2021 is in line with the States-agreed strategic aim of productivity-led growth across all Jersey’s economic sectors and improving environmental sustainability. Its aims are:
- To change the current rural financial support mechanism from a payment based on the area farmed model to performance-based model.
- To change the current ‘contract’ with farmers and adopt a direct ‘procurement of public goods’ approach.
- To ensure policy measures incentivise the most economically and environmentally sustainable approaches to farming in Jersey.
- To evaluate the providers and beneficiaries of the Island’s ecosystem services and use this evidence to inform policy development in the countryside.
- To support the Water Plan in achieving a 10-15% reduction in nitrogen fertiliser application.
- To improve productivity by encouraging mechanisation and to continue to reduce imported labour requirements.
- To outsource rural services that sit better outside of government.
- To explore alternative high-value, low-volume export crops that reduce environmental loading of chemicals and allow crop rotations to reduce levels of crop pests and diseases and subsequently pesticide use.
- To protect biodiversity and natural capital.