The Countryside Stewardship application window for Mid Tier agreements has been extended to Friday 15th September.
The announcement comes following feedback from farmers, allowing more time for applications to be completed. The scheme allows farmers to apply and be paid for environmental work alongside sustainable food production.
The Countryside Stewardship is part of the government’s efforts to make food production more resilient and support environmental goals. 32,000 agreements are already in place across England for 2023, which is a 94% increase in uptake since 2020, including almost 26,000 Mid Tier agreements.
Technical issues experienced during the process have been resolved and further improvements are in process, including greater flexibility over when farmers can apply and how they manage their agreements.
Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said: “It is important that we listen to farmers who are key custodians of the countryside. Having met many farmers across the country this summer, and recognising the poor weather has made harvesting much more challenging, I think it right we extend the application window for Countryside Stewardship this year to make sure that those who want to apply for this scheme can – building on the great success we have had with this scheme to date.”
Further changes have been made to the Countryside Stewardship scheme following farmer feedback, including:
- the removal of the limit on the value of capital items in the water or air quality, hedgerow and boundary, or natural flood management priorities;
- a broadened offer to support natural flood management, create more areas of scrub, and reduce nitrogen inputs in groundwater;
- the removal of the need for farmers to request an application pack before starting their application, automatic checks to enable applications to be processed quicker, and an annual declaration; and
- an average increase of 10% for revenue payment rates and 48% for capital payment rates, as announced in January.
Measure for improving the accessibility of the scheme have also been introduced, including the simplification of options, increased payment rates on revenue and capital items, adjustments made to administration of applications and payments, and improvements made to the checking process.