Government makes move to allow more farmers to benefit from the scheme
Farmers will have additional time to complete their Countryside Stewardship 2024 applications as long as applications were started by the deadline of Friday 15 September, the government has confirmed.
Defra said the move, which followed industry feedback, would mean any farmer struggling to meet the deadline will still be able to benefit from the scheme.
The application window for 2024 Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier agreements had already been extended by four weeks to 15 September to give more time for farmers and landowners to submit their applications online.
For all farmers and landowners who started their application by this deadline or who submitted land changes with the intention to apply, the Rural Payments Agency will support them to ensure they have sufficient time to complete these, the government said.
It added that since the deadline was extended, over 600 further applications have been received, bringing the total number of Countryside Stewardship 2024 applications to 6,000. That builds on the 33,000 Countryside Stewardship agreements in place across England for 2023 - a 94 per cent increase since 2020.
Countryside Stewardship runs alongside the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and Landscape Recovery schemes. SFI applications will open on 18 September, with thousands of farmers said to have already registered their interest.
Food and farming secretary Thérèse Coffey said: ”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.
”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.”