Free farm appraisals for Countryside Stewardship
Published February 11th, 2020
The application window for the improved 2021 Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme has opened, giving farmers and land managers the chance to apply for grants to improve both the environment and their farming incomes.
The Countryside Stewardship Scheme includes four simplified Mid-Tier Wildlife offers designed to be quick and simple to apply for, along with the normal application which enables businesses to also apply for capital works. The grants will be an important steppingstone towards the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) Scheme, which will reward farmers for producing ‘public goods’, such as better air and water quality or improved access to the countryside.
“We are advising farmers to get their applications in early to ensure they have the necessary information in hand before the closing date,” said Vicky Price, chartered surveyor at the Hereford office of Berrys.
“Some options and items require the involvement of Catchment Sensitive Farming Officers (CSFOs) and we are alerting clients that officers need to gather certain information in advance to determine whether or not they will be able to engage with a holding.”
The CSFO will require the following information:
- Farm and farmer name, address and telephone number,
- CPH and SBI number
- Size of holding,
- Existing/previous schemes (incl past funding from CSF),
- Farming enterprise,
- Livestock types and numbers,
- Presence of high risk crops (maize, beet, potatoes),
- Proximity of watercourses/ditches on land and close to yard,
- Areas at risk of erosion (steep or prone to flooding).
“As agents we are being advised to start discussion with CSFOs as soon as possible, to avoid disappointment if they are too busy to visit during the peak months of May-June,” Vicky said.
CS Agreements for arable, lowland grazing, upland and mixed farms will be issued on receipt of a valid application but unfortunately capital items are not available with these options. Application packs can be downloaded online through the Rural Payments Service, or you can request to receive an application pack in the post by contacting Rural Payments Agency (RPA) by May 31, 2020.
The Higher Tier CS will also be available again this year and is aimed at more environmentally significant sites, commons and woodlands with more complex options, supplements and capital items available to meet the needs of these sites. These types of applications require prior approval by the Rural Payments Agency
Also available under CS is the Hedgerows & Boundaries Grant, a competitive capital grant scheme offering up to £10,000 for the restoration of existing farm boundaries and delivering environmental and landscape benefits on the land.
In addition, the Water Capital Grant has up to £10,000 available for capital works such as concreting, tracks, sprayer wash down areas, roofing livestock gathering areas and muck heaps etc.
“Farmers should take up these funding opportunities while they are available and we can advise on the best options to suit their particular systems,” Vicky said.
“Berrys is currently offering a FREE ‘Farm Appraisal’ in relation to Countryside Stewardship for 2020, where we will advise and assess which schemes will be the most suitable for your farming business.”