Tag Archive: DEFRA

Countryside Stewardship Scheme: Simplified Options

DEFRA has announced that the Countryside Stewardship Scheme is being simplified to make it easier for farmers and land managers to apply. Alan Falshaw (Agricultural Consultant) looks into the detail of what is involved in the new proposals.

Countryside Stewardship Scheme



Four New Offers

• Online Arable Offer
• Lowland Grazing Offer
• Upland Offer and
• Mixed Farming Offer



Other Changes

• Shorter application forms
• Streamlined evidence checks
• Non-competitive application process

All farmers who meet the eligibility requirements will get an agreement. This is a step change from the competitive process of previous applications. The options available for the four strands above have all come from the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and are more focused on the particular offer. The number of options available for each offer ranges from eleven to fourteen.


In addition, the popular Hedgerow and Boundary Grant has increased from £5,000 to £10,000 (maximum) per individual. £10 million pounds has been allocated to this grant alone.


As usual, the devil will be in the detail but farmers and land managers should view this as a further opportunity to access funding from the RPA whilst delivering positive environmental benefits.


For more information on Grants and Funding please contact your local consultant:

Northumberland and Borders: David Hume
Durham: Alan Falshaw
Yorkshire: Sally Horrocks

Farmers Urged to Seize £40 Million Rural Grant Opportunity

Farmers are being advised to take advantage of DEFRA’s £40 million rural grant. The new Countryside Productivity scheme is for farm technology and equipment investment that can help livestock, dairy, arable and horticultural farmers to improve farming productivity so that they can create a more sustainable and progressive business which, in turn, will support rural growth.

Tractor Ploughing

 

Farming conditions

“It’s been tough going these past few years for farming. Farmers and growers have had to deal with volatile market prices, weather changes, and also preparation for the impact Brexit will have on the industry,” said David Hume, a George F. White Farm Consultant. “The demand for more sustainable and efficient farming businesses is greater than ever, and this new rural grant can really help farmers and growers to do this. The minimum grant contribution is £35,000 which (assuming a grant rate of 40%) makes the minimum project cost £87,500. This grant is therefore very much focused on larger projects that will aid business expansion or significantly reduce production costs.”

 

Producers can become processors

A good way to achieve sustainability is through diversification, and this scheme can help the farming sector to create a new revenue stream through setting up a new enterprise or expand existing enterprises. It provides a perfect opportunity for producers to also become processors. For example, a dairy producing milk traditionally sells it to a larger dairy marketing co-operative, however the smaller dairy farmer could now process their own milk and bottle it to sell locally or produce another dairy product to achieve a higher market price direct to the business.

 

Rural growth boost

“The main objective of the scheme is to facilitate and support the rural growth of progressive businesses, to create a sustainable rural community that is using the latest technology and techniques and making the most of opportunities available to improve profitability,” added David. “We’re working with farmers and growers across the region to help them move their farming business forward and secure greater sustainability, and this new funding opportunity will be central to how we approach this. It’s a very welcome boost for rural growth and we’re looking forward to helping clients diversify with help from the scheme, to secure their long-term farming future.”

 

If you’d like to discuss the Countryside Productivity Scheme in more detail and how it can benefit you and your business, please contact your local Farm Business Consultants:

Northumberland & Borders: David Hume on 01665 511986 or email davidhume@georgefwhite.co.uk
Durham: Alan Falshaw on 01388 529539 or email alanfalshaw@georgefwhite.co.uk
Yorkshire: Sally Horrocks on 01677 458201 or email sallyhorrocks@georgefwhite.co.uk

Agricultural Outlook 2016

Firstly, may I wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2016. Having said that, for a lot of Yorkshire farmers, it’s started extremely badly as a result of the significant rainfall and subsequent flooding and my sympathies are extended to all those affected.

DEFRA’s Farming Recovery Fund has been extended to all those affected in Yorkshire by the floods between 4-9 and 25-26 December. Between £500 – £20,000 is available to those impacted by the flooding and claim forms must be submitted by 1st April. The fund covers items such as costs for alleviating soil compaction, grass seed cost, restoring access ways, tracks and drainage. Some elements are at standard rates such as re-seeding, fencing, walling, access ways and others such as using contractors for restoring agricultural drainage are up to 100% of eligible costs. Works need to be done and claimed for by end of 2016 and most importantly you need photographs of the flooding and the impact. In exceptional circumstances, you may also be able to claim for damage to buildings and machinery.

I would suggest anyone with flooding issues goes out straight away to take photographs of both the flood water and the land as soon as the flood water recedes. Whilst you may need some quotes from drainage contractors etc., do this while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind, get the application completed and ready for submission.

It’s a timely reminder of the impact of El Nino on our weather system, which occurs every 2-7 years normally at the end of the calendar year and how farming is so susceptible to the elements and profitable times are needed in order to cover these cash strapped years. Conversely, historically food staples have risen by 5-10% during such events and perhaps we may see commodity prices rise over the next few months if global food production is affected in the short term.

Looking into 2016, whilst El Nino may have some effect, global production is still high. Encouraged by previously high prices and with a strong currency, our exports are not looking attractive and budgeting for significant increases in prices would seem bullish. Given this outlook, one needs to look carefully at planned capital expenditure in 2016 and the availability of surplus cash. There have been a lot waiting for the subsidy and I suspect for a number it’s already been spent. The banks are keen to lend, but credit teams are securitising serviceability a lot more and certainly long term debt looks very cheap at present and worth locking into. This may lead to some forced sales of land and property, which is likely to stem land prices. There are buyers in the market, particularly as quite a few development options are being exercised and farmers seeking to roll over gain back into farm land, but those buyers may have more of a choice and perhaps be a bit more picky and I suspect we’ll see significantly more variances in local land prices compared to the previous 3-5 years.

Farming Recovery Fund

The Government opened (on Friday 18th December 2015) an emergency fund to help farmers affected by the recent flooding in December 2015 to restore damaged agricultural land with the application period closing by the 1st April 2016.

Flood-affected farmers in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northumberland who have suffered uninsurable losses can apply for Farming Recovery Fund (FRF) grants. The size of the grants range from £500 to £20,000 per claimant, with any active farmer or landowner who has the responsibility of the restoration of the land able to apply.

The grants can cover a range of works including re-seeding grass fields, soil restoration, removing flood debris, restoring agricultural drainage and restoring access/track ways.

The Rural Payment Agency (RPA) will run the fund on behalf of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Supporting evidence is required showing the need for the grant and the damage caused by the recent floods and any potential applicants should take photos showing the extent of the damage as soon as possible. Should the repair work have already commenced or been completed the grant is still available, subject to certain criteria being satisfied.

If you would like further information please contact:

Hamish Smales (Alnwick) on 01665 511981

Sally Horrocks (Bedale) on 01677 458201

Tom Mason (Shiptonthorpe) on 01430 876015

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