With BPS set to reduce, now is a good time to be thinking about whether Countryside Stewardship is right for your business. At the time of writing, although no formal announcement has been made, we anticipate that the 2020 application window for Countryside stewardship will open on 11th February.

Countryside Stewardship offers an alternative income stream in the face of reducing direct payments, and potential changes in the market. Under Countryside Stewardship, you will receive fixed yearly payments, giving you a certain source of income over five years.

Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier is a flexible scheme that can be adapted to fit around your farming system. There are a wide variety of options to choose from, and you have full control over which areas of land you enter into the agreement. This means you can build an agreement that enhances existing environmental features and converts less productive areas into valuable habitats while continuing to push productive areas to achieve their potential.

The Mid Tier scheme also includes a number of capital items, such as those designed to protect water quality as well as grants for boundary restoration. ADAS can help you to determine whether you are eligible for any of these items, and provide guidance on appropriate siting and design.

It is expected that we will continue to have access to Countryside Stewardship until its replacement, the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), is fully operational. ELMS is still very much in development but it is expected that the scheme could be very different to those which have gone before, potentially including different payment mechanisms such as ‘payment by results’ and the opportunity to deliver public goods.

ELMS is currently due to be rolled out in 2025 but the government has already guaranteed that farmers in a Countryside Stewardship agreement will not be disadvantaged when ELMS becomes available. It, therefore, makes sense to apply for Countryside Stewardship now, to boost your revenue as the transition phase comes into effect.

Find out more

The challenge is working out how to tailor an application to work for your business – and that is where ADAS can help you. We have a nationwide team of advisers who can provide the guidance you need to apply for Countryside Stewardship this year.

For an initial discussion, please contact Zoe Morgan (07771 676615), to get a head start for the 2020 application window.