Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum submitted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

  A number of follow-up notes were requested following the Secretary of State's and Brian Bender's evidence session on the Establishment of DEFRA on 14 November. I attach notes on:

    —  progress of the "Going for Green" and "Are you doing your bit?" programmes;

    —  green ministers;

    —  organic milk: aid for conversion to organic farming;

    —  Rural Payments Agency; and

    —  congress of European Agriculture, Belfast.

  The note on the implementation of the Rural White Paper will follow as soon as possible.

17 December 2001


  The Government's Sustainable Development Strategy views increased awareness of sustainable development as a powerful tool for change. The Committee requested information on DEFRA's involvement in education and awareness raising, including the "are you doing your bit?" Campaign and those of Going for Green.

The "are you doing your bit?" campaign

  The Deputy Prime Minister launched the "are you doing your bit?" campaign in the spring of 1998. It informs the general public of small changes that individuals can make in their everyday lives that cumulatively could make a significant impact on sustainable development issues including global climate change, local air quality, and other environmental concerns such as waste and water. It was designed as a cohesive "umbrella" campaign which would bring together the twin themes of environment and transport, re-enforce the work already carried out by local authorities and campaigning groups (eg EnCams, the Energy Saving Trust), and provide a focus for raising public awareness. The campaign budget for 1998-2000 totalled £18 million. In 2001 £5 million of campaign funds were redirected to the Rural Task Force and as a result campaign activity for 2001 has been at a low level and focussed primarily on the interactive campaign roadshow which toured 22 locations around England. Research carried out at the end of 2000 (the height of the campaign) showed:

    —  campaign achieved a high degree of recognition—90 per cent identified it and its approach;

    —  70 per cent said campaign adverts were convincing;

    —  marked effect on acceptance of small environmental actions as the norm—70 per cent confirmed intention start/increase frequency of their actions;

    —  218 local authorities endorsed and used campaign/brand, and over 300 businesses;

    —  campaign has been supported by major commercial partners including Barclays, Dixons/Currys, Safeway, Jet, Powergen, Yellow Pages etc; and

    —  over 106,000 visited to roadshow.

  We are currently reviewing the scope of the campaign following the formation of DEFRA and in light of the new Department's aims and objectives, and DEFRA's lead role across Government in promoting sustainable development. More information on the campaign is at

Going for Green

  In 1995 the previous government launched the Going for Green public awareness campaign. Environmental Campaigns (EnCams) Limited was created in January 1998 to establish a "parent" organisation encompassing all the activities hitherto undertaken by Going for Green and the Tidy Britain Group. It has now absorbed both these bodies and assumed responsibility for their programmes. DEFRA is paying a core grant of £3.542 million to EnCams for its work in 2001-02. Following a Financial Management and Policy Review of support for EnCams, grant now assists two ministerial priorities: regional support for "are you doing your bit?" and work on litter and other local environment quality initiatives. EnCams run a number of campaigns in schools, including the UK component of the Europe-wide Eco Schools Programme, Active Citizenship for Schools, and the ICT-based Green Code for Schools.

  More information on DEFRA support for EnCams can be found at:

  and on EnCams own school programmes at: - education.asp.

Other Initiatives

  DEFRA is involved in a number of other education initiatives. We are sponsoring a WWF schools educational programme and competition as part of the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, as well as many educational initiatives assisted through the £4 million of our Environmental Action Fund (£4 million). In our recent call for applications to the Fund, education was one of only two key priority areas. DEFRA's range of paper and internet resources provides a wide range of free tools for education and awareness raising by schools and others. It includes website materials and a guide to resources for teachers. We are advised by the expert Sustainable Development Education Panel, which has produced four annual reports making a wide range of recommendations covering schools, further and higher education, youth, the work place, the professions and the general public. Further information on the Panel can be found at:


  Between November 1999 and June 2001, the Green Ministers Committee met five times. Following the General Election in June 2001, the previously informal Committee was upgraded to a Cabinet Sub-Committee of ENV, ENV(G), in recognition of its important role in promoting sustainable development. This new status of Green Ministers is an important step forward and ENV(G) has a clear remit to tackle key cross Government sustainable development issues from both a policy and operations perspective and deliver greater progress. However, as a formal Cabinet Sub-Committee, Cabinet Office rules dictate that information relating to the proceedings of Cabinet Committees should not be disclosed.

  Further information and future priorities for the Greening Government Initiative, recently renamed "Sustainable Development in Government", can be found in the Third Annual Greening Government Report, published on 27 November 2001 and available on the Government's sustainable development website at:


  There is clearly a problem with the supply of organic milk, though we hope it is a temporary one. From a position last year of shortage requiring imports of organic milk, particularly for processing, we now have oversupply. As a result of production from producers who entered conversion in 1999 now coming on stream, UK organic milk production is running at something like twice the level a year ago. But there is reason to think that this can be substantially dealt with as increased processing capacity needed to meet continuing consumer demand is put in place and by import substitution as contracts with overseas suppliers come to an end. We have not seen an equivalent problem with other organic commodities.

  As to using the OFS to put a brake on conversion, there are a number of factors to take into account. First there is a legal constraint. Because, as noted earlier, the OFS is part of the ERDP any substantial change to it, such as altering eligibility for aid, has to be agreed with the European Commission. There is of course a mechanism for this but it is cumbersome and does not facilitate the sort of prompt tap turning Mr Curry had in mind. As things stand there is only one opportunity each year for changes to be agreed and this year's opportunity has already been taken for other necessary changes to the programme. That said, it would be possible in future reviews to look at operational changes which might cater better for quick adjustments being made.

  We would also need to think carefully about the effect of withholding conversion aid in one area on uptake of conversion aid generally. Although clearly more extreme, the closure of the OFS during 2000 has had a significant effect on farmers' confidence in conversion and consequently the uptake of conversion aid. There would need to be very careful presentation of even a more limited restriction if we were to avoid a further slump in uptake and failure to meet the objectives for the OFS which are set in the ERDP.

  Finally, before withdrawing conversion aid from dairy farmers we would need to be sure that the current difficulty was genuinely a long term structural problem and as noted above there are grounds for believing that it may not be.

  It should also be noted that after the Policy Commission on the Future of Food and Farming has reported the Government intends to draw up an Action Plan for Organic Farming in conjunction with the organic food and farming sectors. The Plan will set out the future direction for the sector and it will need to consider the crucial issue of balancing supply and demand for organic produce.


  RPA was launched as an executive agency of DEFRA on 16 October 2001. The Agency was accredited as an EU paying agency on the first day of the 2001-02 EAGGF year. From the date of accreditation until the date the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce (Abolition) Regulations 2001 came into force, the Agency operated as a joint enterprise between the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce and the DEFRA under a single management structure headed by the Chief Executive.

  RPA International Audit completed a pre-accreditation audit. The UK Co-ordinating Body submitted details to the Competent Authority on 1 October with a recommendation for full paying agency accreditation with effect from 16 October 2001. The Commission have indicated that they are content, in principle, with this recommendation.

  The RPA senior management team is complete and brings together significant government and private sector experience.

Business Governance

  RPA's Ownership Board met for the first time on 24 September and endorsed its Framework Document, Corporate Plan (2001-02 to 2006-07) and Business Plan (for the first six months of operation). The Corporate Plan includes a "strategic staircase" that provides a forward-looking insight into the projected development of the agency throughout the next six years. It demonstrates the key stages in the change programme to realise the benefits stated in the Business Case for creating a single agency.


  The work of the Operations Directorate and the change programme has been severely impacted by the effects of FMD. Over 500 RPA staff, including most of the Technical Inspectorate, have been loaned to the various FMD control centres. The Livestock Welfare (Disposal) Scheme (LW(D)S) has generated significant demand on resources. In Reading, which is a downsizing site, action had to be taken to counter the effects of additional work shortages by accelerating the transfer of work to other sites. For example, the Over Thirty Month element of the Slaughter Premium Scheme (SPS) has been transferred to other RPA processing sites and it is planned to transfer Milk Quotas to Exeter in the spring.


  The unification of staff in the new agency is an essential element to support the launch of RPA. The roll out of the RPA brand, monthly issue of an in-house magazine ("Compass") and a tour of all offices by the Chief Executive, HR Director and Change Programme Director have helped the merger. In addition, a culture change work plan will support the development of the new agency.

  The impact of FMD delayed the planned publicity campaign aimed at farmers, traders and other stakeholders about all aspects of the restructuring programme. A letter issued in September 2001 from Lord Whitty formally announced the forthcoming creation of RPA in the context of restructuring DEFRA in the regions. RPA issued a more detailed introductory leaflet during the week beginning 8 October to the same recipients. The RPA web site was launched on 16 October. A successful inaugural RPA Industry Forum took place in July to start the process by which representatives from key customer groups will meet on a quarterly basis and input into the on-going management and change programme of RPA.

Long term development of RPA—16 October onwards

  The development of the new agency as defined in the Business Case will be undertaken within RPA for completion by end of 2004. Progress towards the longer term organisational design is being monitored against detailed programme plans.

  The vision and structure of RPA envisaged in the original "CAPPA" business case still hold good and are being implemented. These are now encapsulated into RPA's Corporate, Business and e-Business Strategies. The continuing impact of FMD, and the extension to the LW(D)S to include the slaughter of light lambs, has diverted RPA senior managers and staff onto business critical work. However, progress has been maintained on the long term development of RPA with no further slippage.

Programme Governance

  ROB (formerly Restructuring Assurance Board) meets quarterly to provide oversight for the overall restructuring programme with RPA Leadership Group (LG) operating as the programme board for the change programme. The programme governance structure reflects the DEFRA-wide implications of the programme. Mark Addison (Director General—Operations and Service Delivery) has been appointed as overarching Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for the restructuring programme as a whole. Johnston McNeill is SRO for the RPA Change Programme and Jane Brown is SRO for the ERDP IT Programme (see paragraph 4.3.1).

OGC Gateway Reviews

  The Change Programme successfully passed through the OGC Gate 2 review (25-28 September, delayed from June 2001 by impact of FMD). OGC confirmed the sound basis of the revised business case and that RPA could proceed with the launch of its main systems procurement. OGC commended RPA on the quality of work completed to achieve this milestone. The review also focused on funding programme management and stakeholder support and involvement. In passing Gate 2 the change programme team fully addressed the following main issues arising from the first review:

    —  updating of business case to reflect developments in the 14 months since the original business case was completed;

    —  benefits management ie identifying, optimising and tracking the expected benefits from the change programme to ensure that they are realised; and

    —  de-risking the programme—the programme remains high risk but this has been reduced by reviewing the phasing and splitting the procurement into smaller work packages with a number of projects launched outside of the main procurement.

Programme Management

  The Change Programme is adopting best practice in all areas of programme activity. In particular, it follows OGC guidance on Managing Successful Programmes and applies PRINCE 2 methodology to all projects as they are initiated. Relevant training is being provided for senior management and project leaders. The Change Programme maintains a current record of the lessons from major government IT projects and how RPA is addressing the learning points.

  RPA continues to address programme and business risk, and a top-down strategic risk review team led by the Permanent Secretary supports regular reviews of risk by the Programme team, LG and ROB. One area of current concern is industrial action within DEFRA which poses a risk to the Change Programme and to the achievement of ongoing performance targets.


  The Procurement Strategy has been agreed allowing RPA to launch the OJEC notice for its main systems procurement. Ministers have been advised of progress. RPA has tested market opinion, through supplier meetings, to test the appropriateness of the emerging procurement strategy and to take account of alternative viewpoint. The objective being to ensure a robust deliverable procurement which maximises market interest. RPA has launched a single project to produce a full set of Interim SSRs to enable potential suppliers to have a clear understanding of the scope, scale and nature of the business processes and new systems. In addition, a draft final SSR for IACS land based schemes has been produced as an example of the required format.


  RPA have made visits to other Government Departments to learn from their experiences of outsourcing IT systems, to other EU paying agencies, and to call centres. The call centres visited included "Call First" which is the National Farmer's Union centre that services a similar client base to RPA. RPA attended the Conference of EU paying agencies and made a well received presentation at the last EU Panta Rhei meeting. Further benchmarking visits with EC paying agencies will be scheduled before the New Year to assist with the development of the final SSRs.

Electronic forms

  The IACS e-forms project for 2001 was completed at the end of July. Work to finalise the Post Implementation Review and analysis of more than 3,300 returned feedback questionnaires is near completion. Questionnaires were sent to those who 836 who submitted electronic forms and those who registered an interest but did not submit an electronic form. The major obstacles to take up in 2001 were the impact of FMD on off-farm travel and the process of obtaining digital certificates. Lessons will be learnt from this exercise to achieve higher levels of take up. Despite the low levels of take up, a solid foundation has been laid on which to base the delivery of electronic forms. RPA is currently reviewing the best way to take forward the use of e-forms for 2002.

  It is recognised that incentives may be required to encourage customers and their representative groups to submit their claims electronically. Funding of £2.25 million is set aside in the Ring Fence Fund for this purpose and wide variety of options will be considered eg training, joining up with existing initiatives such as UK Online or business links.

Business Continuity

  Risk management and the maintenance of business continuity was always recognised as a major component of the restructuring programme. A dedicated Business Continuity Directorate was established at a very early stage and, despite the risks imposed by FMD and more latterly by industrial action, Phase 1 of the restructuring process is on course for completion by end March 2002. This phase has included the transfer of work between RDS sites to ensure co-terminosity with Government Office boundaries, the downsizing of RPA operations at Bristol, Worcester and Reading (ex RSC site) and the bringing into play of Newcastle Lancaster House as a multi-processing site capable of handling both ex-MAFF and IB schemes. Further work and contingency planning is now underway (Phase 2) to complete the downsizing programme by 2003-04 and the establishment of the new RPA sites. All farmers and traders have recently been written to advise them of the transfers of work between sites and a series of local rate (0845) numbers has been established to ensure that customers whose work has moved considerable distances from downsizing sites are not disadvantaged.


  During her evidence session, the Secretary of State referred to a Farming Conference in Belfast and in particular to a speech given by a delegate from New Zealand. The Conference was the Congress of European Agriculture, held in Belfast on 24-26 September 2001 and the speech about New Zealand farmers was given by Tom Lambie, former President of the Federated Farmers of New Zealand. The event was organised by the NFU. A copy of Mr Lambie's paper is attached [not printed].

  The following delegates also addressed the conference:

    24 September 2001—Welcome addresses

      Douglas Rowe—President, Ulster Farmers Union

      Tom Parlon—President Irish Farmers Association

    Opening speeches

      Ben Gill—President of the CEA

      Brid Rogers—Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, NAWAD

    Europe from a global perspective

      Lord Whitty

      Anne Veneman—US Secretary of Agriculture

    Keeping a balance in the food industry

      Franz Josef Radermacher—Ulm University

      Clive Beddall—The Grocer

      Elisabeth Gauffin—Arla Foods

      Chris Pomfret—Frozen Foods, Birds Eye Walls, Unilever (UK)

      Jan Krzystof Ardanowski—KRIR National Council of Agricultural Chambers

      Linda Fulponi—Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Division OECD

      Mario Campli—President of COGECA

    25 September 2001—The European approach

      David Bryne—EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs

      John Krebs—FSA

      Mats Lederhausen—Macdonald's International

      Jeanne Brugere Picoux—National Veterinary Institute

      Manfred Botsch—Director Federal Office of Agriculture

      Kaul Nurm—Estonian Farmers Federation

      Fiona Reynolds—National Trust

    Private forest ownership for sustainable management in a global perspective

      Martin Lillandt—Finnish Farmers Union

      Karl Giesen—Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Waldbesitzerverbande

    Farmers and consumers working for mutual benefit

      Marie Jose Niocoli—Que choisir?

      Lucy Neville Rolfe—Tesco

      Stefan Mikinovic—Agrarmakt

      Dario Olivero—Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori

      Laszlo Zadori—VHT Livestock and Meat Council

      Eckhardt Wilkins—CEA European Insurance Committee

      Sidney Gibson—NFU Mutual

      Nick Way—CLA Country Landowners and Businesses Association

      John Witchell—Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

    26 September 2001—So what are the answers?

      Margaret Beckett

      Franz Fischler—EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Fisheries

      Jerzy Plewa—Under Secretary of State for Agriculture

      Gerard Viatte—OCED Food Agriculture and Fisheries Directorate

      Gretchen Stanton—WTO Agriculture and Commodities Division

      Jean Paul Bastian—Vice President of COPA

      Mario Campli—President of COGECA

      Tom Lambie—New Zealand Farmers Union

      Miroslav Jirovsky—President of the Czech Association of Agricultural Co-operatives and Enterprises

    Closing Speech

      Ben Gill—President of the CEA.

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