The Countryside Stewardship Scheme has received plenty of bad press since its launch back in 2015. Much of this bad press is on the back of very late and sporadic payments made to farmers who have incurred significant cost in implementing such. The scheme itself, options and payment rates are well worth considering, it is however the administration of the scheme that lets it down. As consultants we are aware of the impacts of such erratic payments on a tight cashflow, therefore when on farm we are encouraging those that we know cannot cope with the vagaries of the RPA payment system to evaluate how best the scheme can work for them. With the uncertainty over Brexit, having a 5-year scheme to pay for some of the less productive land/ blackgrass areas whilst getting a financial return appears a sensible thought.
Compared to the sporadic annual payments, the capital payments have been made on time in most cases. If you are currently not in a stewardship scheme do not be put off by the bad press, use it to your advantage, uptake of these schemes has increased, however it is still well below capacity and therefore given that there is no maximum amount of capital funding available for items, it is worth considering loading stewardship agreements with capital items to make use of this funding whilst it is available, especially as new ammonia reduction targets will be coming within the medium term. There are a range of capital items available however a top six in terms of popularity are:
Concrete yard renewal (£27.14/ sqm)
Roofing over manure/slurry/silage store (£62/sqm)
Self-supporting covers over slurry stores (£30.5/sqm)
Floating covers over slurry stores (£5.6/sqm)
Livestock and machinery tracks (£33/m)
If you require funding to enable works to be completed banks may be happy to offer short term overdraft extensions to cover the cost of the works before grant funding is received. Over the last 4 years of the scheme we have maintained a 100% success rate when applying for agreements on behalf of clients.
If you would like some initial advice or to discuss how a Mid-Tier agreement can work best for your farm, please contact Harry Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or your nearest FCG office.