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Deadline extended for Countryside Stewardship applications

As poor weather has made for a particularly challenging harvest, Defra has extended the application window for CS Mid Tier agreements until mid-September.

sheep in field on farmland in British countryside

Farmers applying for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier agreements will now have until 15th September after the deadline was extended due to farmer feedback.

Technical issues which were experienced by a small number of farmers when submitting applications have now been resolved, Defra said.

The Rural Payments Agency is working with affected applications and agents, with actions being taken to resolve issues as quickly as possible and systems being put in place to assist farmers with the process.

Defra secretary of state Thérèse Coffey said: “It is important that we listen to farmers who are key custodians of the countryside.

“Having met many farmers across the country this summer, and recognising the poor weather has made harvesting much more challenging, I think it right we extend the application window for Countryside Stewardship this year to make sure that those who want to apply for this scheme can – building on the great success we have had with this scheme to date.”

There are 32,000 Countryside Stewardship agreements already in place across England for 2023, a 94% increase in uptake since 2020, according to Defra.

Additional investment has been put into online systems to increase capacity, the department added. Improvements such as greater flexibility over when farmers can apply and how they manage their agreements are also in motion.  

Other recent evolutions to Countryside Stewardship include:

  • The removal of the limit on the value of capital items in the water or air quality, hedgerow and boundary, or natural flood management priorities;
  • A broadened offer to support natural flood management, create more areas of scrub, and reduce nitrogen inputs in groundwater;
  • The removal of the need for farmers to request an application pack before starting their application, automatic checks to enable applications to be processed quicker, and an annual declaration; and
  • An average increase of 10% for revenue payment rates and 48% for capital payment rates.

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