Increases in Payment Rates for Agri-Environment Schemes

Published: 03/01/2023 By Charlie Andrews

An announcement from DEFRA last week pledges both clarity and a higher payment rate for Agri-Environmental schemes. Graduate Surveyor Charlie Andrews has the details.

With reductions in BPS payments, a dramatic rise in input costs and uncertainty in future agricultural policy, there is an ever greater reason for farmers and landowners to make the most of the schemes and grants available to them. DEFRA minister Mark Spencer announced welcome news at the Oxford Farming Conference last week, with greater funding for agri-environment schemes to support the farming industry, a commitment to encourage uptake, and promises for greater clarity on future schemes.

Annual payments received under Countryside Stewardship (CS) and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) (part of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS)) are set to increase for new and existing agreements, with payments for capital items under CS in some cases increasing significantly.

CS payment rates for management options are set to increase by an average of 10% whilst capital items, such as hedgerow creation or concreting yards, have increased by an average of 48% for new agreements - a welcome change given the recent rises in material costs. Some of the most popular options that have seen payment increases for 2023 are set out below:

With DEFRA now intending to develop “an enhanced version of CS for future years” and looking likely to become part of ELMS, and with all new CS agreement holders being able to terminate their agreement early without penalty in order to enter into new schemes which provide “equivalent or greater levels of environmental outcomes”, entering into a CS agreement now could provide an additional source of income and ensure that you are best placed for future schemes.

Under the SFI, farmers could receive up to an additional £1,000 a year to assist with administrative costs incurred in participating in the scheme. This is based on an additional £20 per hectare for the first 50 hectares entered into an SFI standard.

There are several schemes and grants available to farmers and landowners which could provide additional income and resources.  Symonds & Sampson are able to provide advice and undertake applications through all stages of the grant process. Please contact Charlie Andrews or Lucy Carnell  in our Yeovil office on 01935 423526, or a member of our Rural Grants Team in your nearest office.