The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that some of the Countryside Stewardship revenue payment rates have increased with effect from 1st January 2023. Where applicable, the higher revenue payment rate will be for both applications received in 2023, as well as revenue agreements which started on or before 1st January 2023.
Payment rates for capital Countryside Stewardship items have also been updated in line with current costs. The increased payment rates only apply to agreements which start 1st January 2023 onwards but there is the option to withdraw capital items from earlier schemes and reapply. Farmers will now have three years to complete and claim for capital works rather than two. Applications for new Capital Grant only schemes can now be made all year round so anyone considering applying should start looking at the application process.
Both Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier and Higher-Tier Schemes will continue to be offered to applicants for agreements starting on 1st January 2024, with applications opening February/March 2023. It has also been announced that Defra will replace the proposed Local Nature Recovery Scheme with an enhanced Countryside Stewardship Scheme. This scheme will be known as Countryside Stewardship Plus and will provide payments in relation to carbon and biodiversity. Further details are yet to be released, but there are likely to be up to around 30 additional actions available to farmers under this new scheme by the end of 2024.
Sustainable Farming Incentive
2022 saw the launch of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) Scheme, with land managers able to apply to enter their land into three standards, being Arable & Horticultural Soils, Improved Grassland Soils and Moorland.
In 2023, there will be new standards launched under SFI, as detailed below:
Additionally, a new SFI Management Payment is being introduced. This payment will be for £20 per hectare, for up to 50 hectares of land entered into the SFI scheme, so a maximum payment of £1,000. The payment is aimed towards encouraging smaller farms to take advantage of the financial incentives that SFI could provide. This management payment will not be offered to those who already participate in the SFI pilot programme. Currently, there are no further details as to when the Management Payment will be applied or available.
The Landscape Recovery Scheme falls under the umbrella of Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) and is for large scale projects which look to undertake significant habitat restoration and land use change. The first round of applications has now closed but there will be a second round of applications opening later this year.
Innovation and Productivity Grants
It is expected that the next round of the Farm Equipment and Technology Fund, for small grants between £2,000 and £25,000, will be launched in spring 2023.
These latest announcements made by Defra provide much of the information we’ve been waiting for to allow farmers to plan future schemes, although there are still further details to be announced. We’d encourage all farmers to look at the various schemes and consider which work best for their farm to ensure opportunities are not missed.
If you would like one of our team to undertake a review please do get in touch. For more information or to find out how our Rural Property & Business department can help you please contact 01234 352201 or 01280 428010 or email email@example.com
We have been eagerly awaiting the latest information from Defra on changes to agricultural policy following Brexit and our withdrawal from the Common Agricultural Policy. On 30th November we received the England’s Agricultural Transition Plan which sets out Defra’s future plans.
The Plan covers the following:
Reductions to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)
We have previously reported Defra’s plans to phase out direct payments by 2028 but we only had details of the reductions which would be applied to BPS in 2021. We now have the reductions up to 2024 which will be as follows:
|Payment||Reduction 2021||Reduction 2022||Reduction 2023||Reduction 2024|
|Up to £30,000||5%||20%||35%||50%|
|£30,000 – £50,000||10%||25%||40%||55%|
|£50,000 – £150,000||20%||35%||50%||65%|
These reductions work in bands so if you receive a payment of £40,000 in 2020, in 2021 you would receive a 5% reduction on the first £30,000 and 10% on the remaining £10,000, leaving a payment of £37,500.
Beyond 2024 Defra intends to de-link the payment so that claimants no longer need to farm land in order to claim. The payment is likely to be based on a reference year(s). It is also intended that farmers looking to retire may be able to opt to take a lump sum payment in 2022 or 2023. Both of these elements will be subject to consultation in 2021.
Environmental Land Management (ELMs)
As a replacement to the current Environmental Stewardship (ES) the new scheme is intended to have three components:
The full options for ELMs are not expected to be in place until later in 2024 and therefore until then Defra will continue to offer new Countryside Stewardship Schemes and extensions to existing agreements.
Similarly to the existing Countryside Productivity Small Grant and Growth Programme Grants it is intended to offer grants for investment as follows:
There will also be grants available for investment in slurry storage, animal health and welfare, new entrants, and support organisations to offer advice to farmers to work through the transition period.
The aim is to enable farmers to improve their productivity to allow them to farm without subsidy when direct payments are phased out at the end of 2027.
Defra is keen to highlight its desire to move away from the current system of enforcement by penalty to more of an advisory role. Inspections will be more targeted to high risk areas and activities and penalties applied proportionately according to risk.
Overall we are yet to see detail of the payment rates which will be offered under the new ELMs and it is likely that the success or failure of the schemes, in terms of uptake, will very much depend on this. However, it is good that we are now getting some clarity on Defra’s thinking to enable farming businesses to plan for the future with the twin focus of environmental improvement and increasing farm productivity.
If you require any further information or would like to discuss your specific circumstances, please contact Andrew Jenkinson, Partner & Rural Surveyor on 01280 818905 / 07967 964508 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Polly Sewell, Partner & Rural Surveyor on 01234 362933 / 07771 774749 or email email@example.com