Government launches £2.5 million fund to support collaboration in farming

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has launched the latest round of the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund, allocating a further £2.5 million to promote collaboration between farmers and landowners in England in order to enhance the local environment.

The fund has been set up to support facilitators (individuals or organisations) in bringing together farmers, foresters, and other land managers with the objective of improving the local natural environment at a landscape scale. It forms part of government efforts to enhance the environment and create cleaner, greener landscapes.

Facilitators may be local charities, farming or nature groups, whose role within the scheme is to give advice and share knowledge on activities such as improving biodiversity, restoring wildlife habitats or historic environments, creating woodland, or improving air and water quality.

The current fund is the seventh round of the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund, which is part of the Rural Development Programme for England. So far, 180 groups with over 4,000 members have received the funding, and another 40 groups are expected to receive support in the current round.

Applications are open from today (7th November) and close on 25th January 2023. In order to apply, facilitators must be registered with the RPA and fill out the relevant form here. Agreements for successful applicants will start on 1st June 2023.

Farming minister Mark Spencer said: “By joining forces on shared environmental ambitions, farmers and landowners are able to deliver a greater positive impact on our landscape than they could ever achieve alone.

“This Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund is already helping to bring farmers and landowners together for the benefit of nature and the environment, and I encourage farming communities across England to consider applying.”

Meanwhile, Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the RPA, added: “We want to see uptake from new and existing groups to deliver large-scale environmental improvement in their local areas, create valuable connections and share farming knowledge.”

Defra says the Facilitation Fund forms part of its plan to support sustainable farming practices alongside profitable food production.

Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England, which provides technical advice for the scheme, commented:

“Countryside Stewardship and the farmers and land managers who take up the scheme make a vital contribution to delivering the Government’s environmental commitments, including the statutory target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030.

“Natural England works closely with farming groups and we look forward to supporting further groups via the fund as they nurture wildlife-rich habitats that provide clean water and air and underpin sustainable food production.”

Projects that have previously received funding include:

  • Running demonstration days in timber extraction and wood processing in Morecambe Bay
  • Exploring measures to reduce flooding along the Glenderamackin river in the Lake District
  • Improving farmers’ understanding of ground-nesting birds in the Upper Nidderdale
  • Helping to reconnect farmers with nature and improving their confidence in conservation farming in the White Peak.

To learn more about the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund, visit:

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