With the upcoming changes to the subsidy regime, now is likely to be a good time for many farmers to consider entering into a Countryside Stewardship agreement.
From 2021, Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments will be starting to be phased out through to a complete phasing out by 2028 making this year the last year of unaffected BPS payments.
No earlier than late 2024 we are expecting the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) to become available. Whilst all the details on the new ELMS scheme are not known, early indications suggest ELMS is not being designed to be a BPS replacement with funding levels under ELMS likely to be much lower than those monies currently being received through BPS.
Successful Countryside Stewardship applications made this year will have a start date of 1st January 2021 and with Mid-Tier and Wildlife Offer schemes lasting for 5 years that guarantees a new income stream through to the introduction of ELMS and during the period BPS is starting to be phased out. In addition, there will also be an ability to terminate your Countryside Stewardship scheme early and enter the new ELMS if that is more attractive to you.
The grant schemes available under Countryside Stewardship are:
- Mid-Tier agreements
- Wildlife Offers
- Water Capital Grants
The key points of each scheme is outlined briefly below:
- Competitive application process
- 5 year scheme
- Can incorporate capital items
- Can be more tailored to the farm compared to Wildlife Offers
- Non-competitive, an agreement will be offered provided the minimum requirements are met
- 5 year scheme
- Cannot incorporate capital items
Water Capital Grants
- Only available to those in a high water quality priority area
- Funding up to £10,000 for the standalone grant
- Must have contact with Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer by 31st May 2020.
The deadline to request Mid-Tier Stewardship application packs is midnight on 30th June 2020. If applications include water capital options then contact must have been made with your Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer (CSFO) by 31st May 2020 (same applies for standalone water capital grants). Contact must be made with Natural England for certain options requiring endorsement by 31st May 2020.
The deadline for the submission of all application types is 31st July 2020.
If you are considering applying for a Countryside Stewardship application this year and require assistance then please do not hesitate to contact either Ellen Cottrell (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Amelia Sheldon (email@example.com) for further information or contact the office on 01684 853400.