Countryside Stewardship – deadline approaches

Andrew Peebles - Wilson Wraight

The Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme Mid Tier application packs must be requested by the 31st July 2017 at the latest so that Natural England has time to send out maps and evidence requirements in time for applicants to fulfil the application process by the submission date of the 30th September 2017.

For most arable farmers harvest is now upon us or is imminent. Early indicators are that in general the 2017 combinable crop harvest is not going to be a bumper one. CS Mid Tier scheme could provide an opportunity to secure a regular stream of income for the next 5 years and utilise marginal land that you might have on your holding.

There are however other questions which need to be asked:-

  1. Greening – Now that pesticides have been banned on Nitrogen Fixing Crops, Fallow, Cover and Catch Crops which are essential to providing farmers/land owners with the minimum 5% Ecological Focus Area (EFA) required for Basic Farm Payment Scheme purposes. As a result, less Nitrogen Fixing Crops are likely to be drilled for harvest 2018 onwards, resulting in a significant swing in EFA to the other options available including Fallow, Buffer strips, Hedges, Catch and cover Crops.
  2. Suitability – If you do feel that you do have enough land to accommodate the CS Mid Tier Scheme on you land whilst covering EFA requirements, would you have enough resources to manage the scheme?
  3. Risk – To date 6,120 applications to the CS Mid Tier Scheme have been successful since the outset in 2015. There definitely is not any guarantee that any future applications will be successful, but there will be an above average chance due to the low numbers of interest shown in the scheme.

You should however not be discouraged by the lack of interest shown in the scheme. If you do feel that the scheme is suitable for your holding then please do contact the office to speak to one of our consultants by the 31st July 2017.