Project overview

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union is seen by the government as a unique opportunity to reform UK agricultural land policy.

A dry stone wall, green field and hills in the Peak District

The future of farming

The proposed reforms include thinking about how farmers and land managers are rewarded for looking after the environment. The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is in the process of creating a new Environmental Land Management (ELM) system that could affect as many as 218,000 agricultural holdings and roughly 70% of the UK’s land.

The UK government’s aim of achieving a ‘Green Brexit’ includes a commitment to involve a wide range of stakeholders in the development or ‘co-design’ of ELM, including farmers and land managers.

Our project

Researchers from the Universities of Sheffield and Reading will work with farmers, land managers, stakeholders and Defra to develop and test a model for co-designing the new post-Brexit ELM system by:

  • Holding workshops with stakeholders and conducting interviews.
  • Conducting research on farms involved in the test-, trials- and pilots programme.
  • Organising workshops with experts to explore what principles and methods of co-design work best for policymaking.
  • Assisting Defra in their efforts to achieving an ELM system based on the knowledge, experience and inputs of farmers, land managers, and other relevant parties.

Making an impact

Our research will contribute to a better understanding of how stakeholder participation and practices of co-design can be used to create more effective, democratic government policy.

It will identify ways of involving people and organisations most affected by the new Environmental Land Management system at all stages of the policy development process. Codesigning ELM will mean for the government to take seriously the views of those most affected by it: farmers, land managers, and others whose work is intricately bound up with the natural world.

Our project aims to impact on this process of co-design by identifying approaches that work in the context of active policymaking.

Our research is part of a wider suite of ESRC-funded projects examining the long-term governance implications of Brexit. You can also read more about other Brexit related research projects taking place at the University of Sheffield.