Countryside Stewardship farm subsidy applications did rise, DEFRA confirms

Farm under Countryside Stewardship. Picture: DEFRA

Farm under Countryside Stewardship. Picture: DEFRA - Credit: Archant

The number of farmers applying for a conservation subsidy, which government is hoping to boost with a simplified offering this year, did show a rise over the last three years, figures show.

Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier and Higher Tier schemes were criticised by farmers and agricultural professionals for being too complicated and putting farmers off. A universal scheme aimed at appealing to farmers new to stewardship was launched this month (January).

Applications for Mid Tier schemes starting in January rose from 2,360 in 2016 to 3,830 in 2017 and 3,991 in 2018. Of these, 1970 went live in 2016 and 3,317 in 2017, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

Applications for Higher Tier schemes went from 326 in 2016, to 661 in 2017 and 808 in 2018.

Of these, 266 became live agreements in 2016 and 569 went live in 2017, the department said.