With the imminent phasing out of direct payments beginning in 2021, landowners are reviewing options for the replacement of the significant shortfall in farming income. Environmental Stewardship agreements present one such option, generating an annual payment over a fixed period and contributing to the bottom line of a farming enterprise.
There will be a range of schemes that can be applied for in 2020, including Wildlife Offers for arable, grassland and mixed farms, Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship Schemes, Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship Schemes as well as woodland creation and woodland improvement schemes. The Agriculture Bill is yet to fully progress through the parliamentary stages, but has hinted that future payments will be based on ‘public goods’ such as improved air and water soil quality and soil health.
We have summarised two case studies where Carter Jonas identified the opportunity to enter managed farmland into environmental stewardship agreements. In both cases the client was clear that the environmental scheme should work in tandem with the Estate’s other farming, leisure and sporting enterprises and deliver additional income.
Case study 1
- A 2,500 acre shooting estate in the Cotswolds, of which 400 acres is in hand grassland.
- A Countryside Stewardship agreement was designed; which focused on the estate grassland, which would generate a yearly payment and pay for capital items.
- The designed stewardship agreement included grassland management with minimal inputs, select parcels to be re-drilled as legume and herb rich pastures and hedgerows to be cut on a rotation; all actions the Estate considered to be sound pasture management practices regardless of the stewardship payment.
- The stewardship agreement will also contribute towards the capital required to re-build sections of stone wall on the estate.
- In total the 5 year agreement will generate approximately £19,000/ year of additional income.
Case study 2
- A 1,000 acre estate located in the Chiltern Hills AONB, of which 580 acres has been included in a Countryside Stewardship agreement.
- Carter Jonas tailored the stewardship agreement to satisfy the client’s freedom and enjoyment of the estate, whilst maintaining the existing management structure.
- Management options included low input and species rich grassland management, hedgerow management, protection of in field trees, buffer strips on arable fields and the maintenance of woodland edges on arable land.
- The implementation of selected options would impose minimal costs in addition to the Estate’s current expenditure and will contribute approximately £15,000/ year of additional income.