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Fri 18 May 2018
With the uncertainties surrounding the future of Basic Payment, many farmers are considering whether now is the time to enter into a Mid Tier Agri environmental agreement and benefit from the funds available.
The deadline for requesting an application pack is looming. All application packs must be applied for by 31st May 2018, and therefore farmers should act now as application packs are currently taking at least three weeks to arrive.
Unlike the Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) scheme, the Mid Tier scheme is competitive. Mid Tier encourages farmers to enter into a range of options to create a competitive package which provides a wide range of environmental benefit. With over 100 options available to choose from, the scheme offers the opportunity for applicants to create an agreement which fits around their own farming system. Mid Tier provides flexibility as it does not have to encompass the whole farm, and instead farmers can choose to enter certain fields into the agreement and keep their remaining fields outside of the agreement. There is no set payment rate per acre/hectare, and instead each option carries a different payment rate. Options include:
There have been some changes to the Countryside Stewardship scheme this year, including the introduction of a simplified “offers” application process. Four new offers have been introduced which aim to be simpler and easier to apply for to encourage more farmers to apply. The offers include a streamlined list of options which applicants must choose from, enabling agreements to consist of as a few as three options. The offers route is not competitive and therefore all farmers who make a valid application will be guaranteed funding though the scheme.
As well as the parcel based options, over 60 capital items are available as part of Mid Tier. Available items include concreting yards, covered livestock handling areas, covered muck stores, hedge laying and creation of livestock and machinery tracks.
Mid Tier can be complex both in terms of application and process but, if you are prepared to navigate your way through this, or enlist the help of a rural professional service, then it could prove a wise decision.
If Mid Tier doesn’t appeal, holdings in priority areas can alternatively apply for a standalone two year Water Capital Grant for up to £10,000 of capital items. This is for capital works only, and does not involve placing any options on parcels of land. Eligible items include funding for concreting yards, covered livestock handling areas, covered muck stores and creation of livestock and machinery tracks etc. Such items require approval by the local Catchment Sensitive Farming Offcer (CSFO) which must be requested by the 31st May 2018, along with an application pack from Natural England.
Application packs for both Mid Tier and Water Capital Grants must be requested by the 31st May, with completed applications submitted by the 31st July 2018.
Don’t leave it until the last minute and miss out on available funding. Contact Beth Hanson on 01544 230316 for further details.