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Farmers given more time to complete Countryside Stewardship applications

To enable more farmers to be part of the scheme, Defra has announced support will be provided to those who started their Countryside Stewardship (CS) 2024 applications by the deadline of Friday 15th September to make sure they can still benefit from the scheme.

Following feedback from industry, the government has extended the application window for CS 2024 Mid-Tier agreements by four weeks to 15th September to give more time for farmers and landowners to submit their applications online, resulting in a further 600 applications being received.

Defra has confirmed today that all those who started their application by this deadline or who submitted land changes with the intention to apply will receive support from the Rural Payments Agency to ensure they have sufficient time to complete these.

“I want as many farmers as possible to be able to sign up to our successful Countryside Stewardship scheme which is boosting food production, protecting the planet, and supporting farmers to run profitable businesses,” said food and farming secretary Thérèse Coffey.

“This is why I extended the initial deadline for Countryside Stewardship 2024 and am making sure that anyone who started their application by the deadline will be given the time and support to complete this.”

CS runs alongside the government’s other agri-environment schemes, including the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and Landscape Recovery, that have been developed to replace the old Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Applications for SFI 2023 scheme will open next week on 18th September, and Defra has assured thousands of farmers will benefit from the new accelerated payments this year.

Improvements to the new CS scheme have included increasing payment rates on both revenue and capital items; simplifying and improving options to make them more workable on the ground; and making administrative processes more efficient.

Further improvements to come include greater flexibility over when farmers can apply and how they manage their agreements, with improved access for tenant farmers and increased access to Higher Tier options and agreements.

Farmers can be part of both CS and SFI at the same time, as long as the actions are compatible and they are not being paid for the same action twice.

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