Whilst we’ve just completed the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Countryside Stewardship Scheme annual claims for 2022, at the forefront of our rural team’s mind is the future of these schemes and those that will replace them. The guaranteed income from BPS is something farmers have come to rely on, especially at times of volatility in agricultural markets such as we are seeing now.
BPS will be phased out by 2028, with 2027 being the last year a payment is received under the scheme. By 2024, the payment will be around half of what claimants received in 2020 and therefore planning for this reduction in income is now vital.
The Lump Sum Exit Scheme, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) retirement scheme, is not an option for most but will be useful for a few farmers.
The Countryside Stewardship Scheme offers good levels of payment, recently increased, and is a good way of securing a guaranteed income from poorer parts of the farm without the risks of weather, price volatility, etc. Applications for agreements to start on 1st January 2023 must be submitted by 29th July 2022. With the huge range of options, including capital items, it is worth considering the scheme well in advance of this date to ensure applications are ready for submission by the deadline.
We now have more information of the Government’s much publicised Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), the first part of the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS). In 2022, the scheme will open in June with the Soils Standards for arable, horticultural and improved grassland. We are gradually getting the information on the scheme from DEFRA and the boxes below show the confirmed requirements so far.
Arable and Horticultural Soils Standard
Improved Grassland Soils Standard
Further standards under SFI will be launched in 2023-2025 including payments for hedges, woodland and biodiversity.
A further payment available under ELMS will be the Animal Health and Welfare Review. This is a contribution towards an annual vet visit. It is available to those with at least 50 pigs, 20 sheep or 10 cattle and the payments are as follows:
There is also funding available for capital items, with the Countryside Stewardship: Capital Grants Scheme. Applications are open now and will remain open until all the funding is allocated. This scheme pays a set rate towards capital items under three categories:
Claims can be made for capital items up to £20,000 for each category, £60,000 overall. There will also be further rounds of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund and the Farming Transformation Fund.
A number of the above schemes are time limited and therefore it will be important for farmers to consider which schemes work best for their farms and act swiftly where funding is available. Making a start with the SFI Soils Standard will put people in a good position to enter the further standards when they become available as part of the paperwork will already have been completed.
For information or assistance on any of the above schemes, please contact Polly Sewell.