Countryside Stewardship

Countryside Stewardship

Don Sutherland

In this time of unprecedented change in the land-based sector it is more important than ever to understand your farming business and to take the time to consider the options. Whatever your farming system there are ways to use stewardship options to support it. A business plan that incorporates land stewardship into your farming system makes sense if the options are chosen that have multiple outcomes. The options selected should not only provide ready farm income but with planning they can also reduce your overall costs and contribute to the long term sustainability of your farm by improving soil health, reducing inputs and contributing to crop yield enhancements.

We can help farmers and landowners through the application process and provide support with the delivery of stewardship options. We offer support and advice on both Entry Level and Higher Level Stewardship Schemes, whether it’s assisting new applicants to navigate the processes involved or providing continued support to existing agreement holders.

Beyond the Basic Payment Scheme

BPS is being phased out with the last payment in 2027. However, the first cut is happening this year, and farmers and landowners will need to prepare. Other sources of income including stewardship payments need to be included in a farm’s overall portfolio of options to be ready for the future. The complete E.L.M. scheme is not due to be available until 2024 but in the meantime a Countryside Stewardship agreement will help to lessen the effect of the BPS cuts and prepare a farm for entry into the E.L.M. scheme.

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) will be available for existing and new applicants until 2024 with the last new applications made in 2023. The present CSS options are being re-written to simplify the scheme and to make inspections fairer. New entrants to CSS will be able to withdraw and transfer to the new ELM scheme without penalty.