Farming Minister George Eustice MP at Manor Farm with Richard Bramley, looking at “cover cropping” which is used to manage soil quality.
Four new Countryside Stewardship offers will be introduced for farmers and land managers from the New Year to boost biodiversity and help protect and enhance farmland and the countryside. To discuss these new offers, Farming Minister George Eustice visited Richard Bramley at Manor Farm in Selby and Ainsty this week to see examples of planting being used to maintain and improve the environment.
Significant improvements have been made to the scheme to make it simpler and easier for farmers and land managers to apply.
The four new offers – Online Arable Offer, Lowland Grazing Offer, Upland Offer and Mixed Farming Offer – will provide tailored options covering the full range of different farm types, so farmers and land managers can deliver environmental benefits no matter where they are or what they farm.
The popular Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant will also receive additional funding from 2018, with farmers and land managers able to apply for a maximum grant of £10,000, up from £5,000 in previous application rounds.
Paperwork for the new offers is quicker and easier to get through, due to streamlined evidence checks and shorter application forms designed to help save farmers valuable time. The scheme is also non-competitive, meaning that all farmers who meet the eligibility requirements can get an agreement to deliver as few as 3 options, or as many as 7 up to 14, depending on the offer applied for.
The changes have been made to help more farmers get back into agri-environment schemes, with options such as the popular nectar flower mix which many farmers delivered under the ELS schemes available to apply for in the new CS offers. The new Upland Offer also provides an opportunity for farmers who were on HLS agreements to get into Mid Tier agreements.
These new offers will complement the existing Higher Tier as well as the Mid Tier offer which has been enhanced and will continue to be available, supporting agreements delivering organics, historic, water quality, wet grassland and traditional orchards.
Scheme handbooks with more detail on how to apply and the best options for different farms will be published in the New Year to coincide with the application window opening.
Nigel Adams MP said: “Agriculture is an important part of our North Yorkshire economy and our farmers are rightly proud both of what they produce, and of the contribution that they make to the conservation of our beautiful open spaces. I’m pleased the Minister has visited Selby and Ainsty and heard directly from farmers here. When we can, with the same initiatives, help preserve our environment and simplify bureaucracy for our farmers, that to me is a worthy plan.”