With the New Year well and truly upon us, the attention of many arable farmers is focused on spring cropping. With those thoughts must come careful consideration of how to achieve Ecological Focus Area (EFA) for the 2019 BPS application.
Businesses who have opted to extend their Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) or who already have a Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) in place need to be aware of a subtle change in the rules with regards to EFA’s that will come into force for the 2019 scheme year.
Abby Maynard, Environmental Consultant at Brown & Co’s Norwich office warns “From the 2019 BPS application onwards, farmers will no longer be able to use CSS arable option areas for EFA, sometimes referred to as Greening”. She adds “The RPA deems this practice ‘double funding’ and in a political environment of ‘Public Money for Public Goods’ they will no longer effectively pay twice for the same activity on the same area of land. Importantly however, those farmers who have an HLS agreement within its initial 10 year life cycle can still ‘double fund’ on stewardship options”.
If this effects your business there are several other ways in which you can meet your EFA requirements by for example, buffer strips, catch/cover crops, leaving fallow areas etc. but now is the time to plan before spring drilling gets underway.
For those businesses who are not in stewardship or who’s agreement comes to an end in 2019 consideration needs to focus on whether they apply for a scheme to start in January 2020. There are attractive options for both in-field and capital works such as fencing, hedging and concreting. A 5 year scheme will conveniently finish in the proposed transition to the new Environmental Land Management Scheme “ELMS” full details of which are yet to emerge.
If you require any assistance with understanding the EFA / Stewardship relationship or the income available to you through Countryside Stewardship, please contact your local Brown&Co Office.