The re-vamped Countryside Stewardship Grant opens for applications today. So what's new?
The Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier Scheme is the replacement for popular Entry Level Stewardship scheme, but some farmers have been reluctant to enter this new agreement once their ELS has expired. This has left Natural England considering new ways of encouraging applications, resulting in the introduction of new elements to the Mid Tier Scheme to encourage farmers to take another look and continue the environmental benefits created by the previous ELS.
- The main points of the Mid Tier Scheme are:
- Choose from a long list of Options for your land to suit your farm operations.
- Get paid based on which options you chose and how much of each option you apply to your land e.g. Flower-rich margins £539/hectare, Management of hedgerows £8/100 meters
- Choose from a list of Capital Works to accompany your claim such as new hedge planting £11.60/m, livestock troughs £110 each, or concrete yard renewal £27.11/m², or fencing £4/m
- Each agreement starts on 1st January after submission and lasts 5 years
So, what's new?
Mid Tier applications can be time-consuming and laborious and the need to submit evidence for most of the chosen Options can be onerous. The new proposals include 4 streamlined packages for farmers to chose from which are more straightforward to apply for. The catch is that you cannot include Capital Items. These include specific packages for:
- Arable Land
- Lowland Grazing Land
- Mixed Farm Land
- Upland land
Most importantly, the deadline for submission of applications has been brought forward by 2 months to 31st July. Whereas in previous years the deadline has been 30th September, Natural England have struggled each year to process this information in time to offer agreements ready for a 1st January start date. This has left farmers in limbo when the new year starts and they are unsure whether they are in an environmental agreement or not. Hopefully the earlier deadline will give Natural England the time it needs.
Clare Williams, Chartered Surveyor with Roger Parry & Partners says: "We're urging farmers to think about entering this scheme sooner rather than later. Application Packs must be requested before 31st May so whilst filling your BPS claim form it's worth having a think about what you could change on your land to bring in some extra money by way of agri-environment schemes. Farmers with an ELS or HLS agreement coming to an end during 2018 should also consider Mid Tier as a way of carrying on their scheme. Depending on your ELS options you may end up receiving more money for carrying out the same obligations that you're doing under your ELS/HLS."
Roger Parry & Partners have had great success in submitting Mid Tier applications for clients, with applications in 2017 alone amounting to over £190,000 of income for farmers and over £90,000 worth of Capital Items. For more information or advice about the Mid Tier Scheme call your nearest office:
Oswestry - Rosina Bloor 01691 655334
Minsterley - Charis Denham 01743 791336
Welshpool - Clare Williams 01938 554499