*** The deadline is fast approaching for 2020 Countryside Stewardship applications to be made ***

Water Capital Only Grant: Contact to be made with Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer by 31st May 2020

Mid-Tier special options: Contact to be made with RPA by 31st May 2020

Mid-Tier application request: Application to be requested by 30th June 2020

Wildlife Offer application request: Application to be requested by 30th June 2020


Why should farmers be considering countryside stewardship options?

The government have implied that environmentally friendly farming will be a key feature in the future of farming and farm subsidies.

A thoughtfully structured Mid-Tier CSS agreement can work for many farmers on both a practical and a financial level, as well as creating an environmentally friendly habitat.

With a secured income stream for the next 5 years, farmers all over the country should be seriously considering entering into a CS agreement sooner rather than later in order to help cover the funding gap from the shortfall in BPS from 2021, until the new ELMS (Environmental Land Management Scheme) is introduced in 2024.

Furthermore, the government have said that anyone who enters into any of the new countryside stewardship agreements from 2021, will be able to exit those agreements without penalty if they later happen to be financially penalised in comparison to ELMS. Therefore it seems that there are no significant drawbacks in applying for a scheme this year.

Understandably, sometimes it may be difficult to make some of the options profitable, in comparison to productive farmland. However, the agreements offer a number of options for marginal land and field corners. Some popular options include AB1 (nectar flower mix) paying £511/ha, AB8 (flower-rich margins and plots) paying £539/ha and AB9 (winter bird food) paying £640/ha.

This years application window closes on 31st July 2020 with all agreements having a 1st January 2021 start date.

Capital Payments and Water Capital Grants

In the full Mid-Tier scheme, capital payments are available to help fund on farm improvements such as fencing, hedgerow maintenance, flood management measures, tree surgery etc.

In high priority water quality areas, water capital funds may also be available for items such as concrete yard renewal and sprayer wash-down areas. By using Magic Maps, you can find out if your farm is in a high priority area for water quality.

There is no limit on the value of options put into a Mid-Tier CSS application. However, there is a maximum claim value of £10,000 if the application includes capital items only, such as the Water Capital only grants.

Simplified Wildlife Options

For those farmers who are new to environmental schemes, or who may prefer the simplified range of options and the non-competitive application process. The wildlife offer includes a range of payments, which are also guaranteed for a 5-year agreement term.

These options are available under four separate agreements and split as follows:

  • Lowland Grazing
  • Arable
  • Mixed Farming
  • Upland

Not all farms will be eligible for these simplified options, exclusions include organic farms or farms next to or including SSSI’s who would need to consider the Mid-Tier scheme.

These options are generally much simpler to set up, and therefore a lower cost upfront. The application process is all completed online and site-specific visits from us will not be applicable in most cases.

If you would like to get in touch with us for more information, please do not hesitate to call Ellen Cottrell (07999 534510) or Amelia Sheldon (07780 703661) who would be happy to talk you through the process in more detail.