Relaunch of Stewardship schemes a major boost for improvements in the farmed environment
With the first tranche of Basic Payment monies having arrived in bank accounts, coming in somewhat higher than previously, due to the favourable exchange rate, more positive news was received regarding the Stewardship scheme. Preliminary details were recently released on the plans announced by Michael Gove to revitalise the Countryside Stewardship schemes.
The new arrangements will be much easier to access and strongly resemble the old entry level scheme (ELS). There are four categories, for arable, grassland, mixed and upland farms, and under each category applicants can “mix and match” from a range of the most popular stewardship options. There are also improvements, more money and easier application for the “hedges and boundaries” option.
The options include, for example, AB8 for overwintered stubble, which can help with blackgrass control and a range of buffering, field margin and hedgerow management plans, all of which will improve the farmed environment without necessarily reducing production.
Most importantly, and unlike the previous Stewardship schemes, the new offers will no longer be subject to competitive “point scoring “, so any eligible farmer can join the scheme. Full details and application forms will be released in January.
“We believe that the new arrangements will prove very popular, providing real environmental benefits without the bureaucracy which caused the disappointing take up of the previous Stewardship scheme. If this is indicative of the government’s future agricultural policy post Brexit, it is definitely a step in the right direction”.