Norfolk FWAG Newsletter
The latest newsletter from FWAG Norfolk. Interesting Articles and useful information They would be pleased to hear from you if you need their help or advice details at the bas of the new letter
|Norfolk FWAG eNewsletter February 2023 This month: Farm for the future, Big Farmland Bird Count, Countryside Stewardship update, EA Sustain and more… Welcome to our February e-newsletter|
The emergence of crocuses and other bulbs is a pleasant reminder that spring is not too far away. We very much hope that January was kind to you and you got off to a good start in 2023. As mentioned in our brief update following January’s newsletter edition, we all have something to celebrate after Defra’s announcement of Countryside Stewardship revenue and capital payment rates increase. Now is a perfect opportunity for those of you who are not in any environmental schemes yet to enter one, as it is for those who would like to terminate your existing scheme without a penalty and re-enter a new one, which may be of greater financial benefit to you as well as to wildlife. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries or if you would like us to run a scheme comparison for your farm so you can make a well informed decision. Also, a quick reminder that if you are thinking of undertaking breeding bird survey on your farm, the survey window runs between March and July. We will include more detailed information about it in the next newsletter.
Enjoy reading on!
Want help navigating agricultural policy changes?
The programme aims to help your business become more resilient and sustainable through a series of free business and environment workshops lead by specialists; one-to-one on farm support and optional workshops on more specific topics. Potential workshops include agroforestry, private finance (inc. carbon & BNG) and a farm tenancy workshop, with suggestions gratefully received.
The second workshop in the series is with Nathan Walker, of Norfolk FWAG, on Wednesday 15th February, held in the Colman Room, MacGregor Building, Norfolk Showground, NR5 0TT. Please arrive from 1:30pm for a light lunch, the workshop will start at 2pm, booking is essential.
This workshop will cover the potential environmental assets on farm and ways to enhance these within the farm business. We will also cover details about the current and new environmental schemes.
The first workshop in the series saw Oscar Smith, a local rural business consultant, cover the current agricultural policy changes, how they may affect your business, and how environmental opportunities may be financially and practically beneficial. We have the opportunity to run a similar business workshop, so if you’re keen to join the programme, please let us know.
To join the free programme, complete the sign-up form online here.
More information can be found on the Prince’s Countryside Fund website.
Please email: Sasha@norfolkfwag.co.uk or phone: 07990 570144 for any queries and to sign up for the programme.
Big Farmland Bird Count 3rd – 19th February 2023
A very exciting task for you all is about to commence. The Big Farmland Bird Count is almost here and with it an opportunity to take stock of all the hard work you have put in to enhance your farms’ ecosystems which is directly reflected in the number of the 19 indicator species of bird associated with farmland. Through creation of the essential foraging and nesting habitats the birds are encouraged to make your farm their home. So, with not much to do on your land this time of year and most likely needing a break from machinery maintenance jobs, go out and start counting!
The incredible advancements in agriculture over the past few decades have undoubtedly brought many positives to us humans. Food production has never been so efficient and plentiful. However, the intensification of farming practices has negatively impacted bird populations which have seen a dramatic decline. A healthy bird population is an indication of a healthy farm.
Countryside Stewardship schemes have many options specifically designed to help you increase bird numbers. If you are thinking of entering CS Mid or Higher Tier and would like some help deciding best options for your farm please get in touch.
Please let us know how you got on with your count and maybe email us some photos of the birds you saw, we would love to share them in our next newsletter. If your bird ID skills are rusty, ask your friend or a neighbour or perhaps contact your local bird watching group. There are plenty of enthusiasts itching to twitch! For further information on Big Farmland Bird Count visit their website. Important Changes to capital item rates within Countryside Stewardship
Agreements starting from 1st Jan 2023 The updated capital grant rates will apply to all new agreements starting from the 1st Jan 2023. This includes all HT, MT, SFI, SFI pilot and CS standalone capital grants. The same principle will apply to FiPL agreements that are based on CS rates. Where capital grant rates have decreased agreements sent out for 1st Jan 2023 starts will remain as they were offered. Decreases will only apply to new applications. As the RPA had not prepared for this change it will take them a couple of months to set up the administrative process to update agreements, any claims submitted before these changes are made will be paid at the previous rate and a top-up payment made later.
Agreements starting prior to 1st Jan 2023 Agreements will remain unchanged. Agreement holders can request to withdraw existing agreements and reapply or remove individual items from their agreement and apply for a standalone capital grant. (applicants will need to consider ceilings on standalone grants, see below. Also, not all items available in standalone i.e. fencing of hedges.) Capital items that have been partly claimed or materials purchased cannot be withdrawn. Any consents or endorsements required for capital items will need to be requested again. For capital grants requiring NE Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer approval, if those applications are withdrawn and re-submitted in order to benefit from the updating of the payment rates (note that currently grant ceilings are unchanged and therefore larger projects close to the ceilings may not benefit from reapplying, this situation may change if ceilings change): So long as no changes have been made that alter the basis of the approval, applicants can re-submit their previous CSF approval with the new application. If a new approval would be required, NE has said that, for work management purposes, they will not re-approve CS applications already submitted and approved, unless they can see a positive environmental justification for the change. Unresolved issues The ceilings on capital grant applications remain unchanged. This is under review and further updates are expected. Threshold for accountants letter also remains unchanged but may be reviewed. The claim forms online show the new grant rates for all agreements, this is an error which the RPA are aware of and working to resolve. For more information on the changes click here.
Please email: Nathan@norfolkfwag.co.uk or phone: 07385 469552 for further information. We have recently attended a newly created festival in Colchester – EA Sustain. Its mission is to “enhance the sustainability of East Anglia” and to expand the circular economy model through collaboration between different sectors, with farming playing a major part. The festival was opened by Lord Deben who emphasised the importance of improvement to land fertility through regenerative farming and the vital role of livestock as part of a mixed system, a key to circular farm economy principle. Focus on localism is seen as “crucial to decarbonisation”. Despite the UK’s ambition to increase its biodiversity, it remains one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. According to Tony Juniper, farmers are key to its recovery. He pointed out that many National Parks, despite their perceived environmental importance, are places where “nature is either homeless or starving”. Patrick Holden of The Sustainable Food Trust spoke strongly in favour for land sharing – creating regen systems, rather than land sparing – intensification of farming from a smaller area and afforestation on the rest. We highly recommend reading the “Feeding Britain from the ground up” report produced by SFT to explore the subject further. In the last session we attended a talk by John Pawsey of Shimpling Park organic farm and John Cherry, a co-founder of Groundswell, who disagreed agreeably about aspects of regen farming regarding cultivation and the use of glyphosate. However, they very much shared the same opinion about the ease of transitioning to regenerative systems and the vast amount of support available to farmers who are perhaps unsure about taking the first steps. If you would like to find out more about benefits of regen farming please look here. Services we can provide Countryside Stewardship applications and advice
Sustainable Farming Incentive applications and advice
Stewardship management (including annual & capital claims)
Countryside Stewardship record keeping and spreadsheets
Stewardship mapping, printed to any size
Seed mix advice
Stewardship inspection appeals
Habitat surveying & management advice
Woodland Management Plans
Woodland creation applications
Hedgerow creation applications & management advice
Farm conservation advice and signs
Soil testing & management plans
Farm event co-ordination
Cluster groups & facilitation funds
FiPL grant applications
Retailer assurance schemes (such as LEAF Marque)
Local access agreements
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