A usual, busy time of the year, but with so much going on in the world it seems hard to be able plan a course through the current turbulence and the pressures upon the changing face of agriculture.
Countryside Stewardship has been simplified to a certain extent and made more accessible now we are outside the EU regulations. With recent increases in payment rates and flexibility it is perhaps worth another look as a stepping stone that leads into the new policies as they open.
The Sustainable Farm Incentive (SFI) opens in June with three standards focusing on arable and improving grassland soils. These standards allow initial access to the scheme that is focused on good farm husbandry. Up to £58 per hectare is available to deliver measures to improve the health and fertility of their soil. The funds will support the testing of soils, planting of winter cover crops and the incorporation of organic matter. It is possible to be in both Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive so long as there is no double funding.
With a voluntary way of exiting farming, the lump sum payment is worth 2.35 times the historic annual BPS payment for those who may decide the time is right and wish to leave the industry - either to rent out, sell their land, or surrender their tenancy - bearing in mind the support for new entrants to the industry.