Do Not Leave Matters Until the Last Minute to Maximise Benefit and Return

Do Not Leave Matters Until the Last Minute to Maximise Benefit and Return

As we all know, things in farming are changing. BPS is reducing, starting with this year's payment. If you have had an HLS / ELS agreement, then these have either come to an end, or will do within the next couple of years. The Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot has been launched this year, with different elements being rolled out over the next couple of years heading towards complete rollout by 2024.

There are still many unknowns out there as to what is going to be available, and little is known of the detail of much of the future support. What we do have in place now and is currently available is Countryside Stewardship.

As in previous years, there will be Water Capital grants available early in the year, together with the deadline for Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship applications being the end of April. There will then be Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship applications to be made prior to the closing date of the end of July (as we know things at present!).

If you are interested in applying for any of these grants, now is the time to act. Many of the water related capital items require the prior approval and support of Natural England's Catchment Sensitive Farming Officers (CSFO), and this must be obtained prior to submitting the application, therefore planning and approaching the CSFO now will make putting together an application once the application window opens a much easier process.

As we know, due to the changes which are coming, everyone needs to look at their farming business and plan for the future. A good starting point might be to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What motivates you?
  • What do you need to go forwards?
  • What is currently holding you back to progress your business?

Therefore, ask yourself these questions in light of your business at present and then see if there are any options available under a CS scheme which you may be able to apply for grant money to help improve your farm, and in turn make it more profitable.

For example:
Your motivation is that you are aiming to be the most profitable dairy farmer in your parish.

To go forwards with this, you need to maximise output, whilst keeping costs of production under control.

The factors which are currently holding you back are the cost of artificial fertilizer as you are not able to make best use of slurry produced on the farm due to lack of storage capacity and the amount of clean water which runs into your storage facilities, which mean you have to empty them at a time of year when the usefulness of the slurry is wasted, as grass is not growing.

Combine the fact that you are not maximizing the usefulness of your slurry with the Climate Change issues which are coming to the fore, with particular emphasis on emissions from farms, and tightening of regulations regarding manure spreading and storage.

You then need to look at these and see how you can best solve the issues for the benefit of your business. Countryside Stewardship is a scheme which offers many options in relation to such items, ranging from areas of large expense such as roofing over slurry pits to cheaper, more simpler jobs such as funding replacement guttering and downspouts, to ensure that clean roof water does not run out on to dirty yards but instead is directed in to a clean water drain. There is an array of options in regard to separating clean and dirty water, but all of these need approval from a CSFO.

Therefore, with the dark evenings looming, now is the time to sit down and look at your business and see if the Countryside Stewardship Scheme may offer opportunities to your business to both enhance infrastructure, but also provide additional annual income which will help replace the reduction in BPS which is happening from this year onwards, through land parcel options.

It is anticipated that there will be a larger take up of CS in 2022, so act now and don't leave matters until the last minute as you will not end up getting the best out of the scheme.

If you wish to discuss ideas, or want help taking forwards an application, then please do get in touch and we will be ready to help.

T: 01768 866611

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Tuesday, 17 May 2022

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