29 June 2016
I had always believed the phrase “May you live in interesting times!” to be an ancient Chinese curse, although an internet search suggests it is actually a very British saying. Perhaps this makes it even more relevant this week, as we learn to live with a new future for Britain.
There has been much talk in the mainstream media of new and additional funding of the NHS, education and other areas in post-referendum Britain but I have not seen much mention of agriculture or the environment. This needs to change quickly if we are to stake our claim for vital funding for farmers to carry on their good work under agri-environment schemes. The NFU, CLA and others are already lobbying for reassurances for Britain’s farmers and we will be supporting their good work. FWAG SW and the wider national FWAG Association will also be using our influence to ensure that we can help shape any future stewardship schemes.
What do we know about the future of Countryside Stewardship? The answer is “very little”. We are told that the current round of applications for Countryside Stewardship is “Business as usual” and that this will be the case for the next two years, or until we are told otherwise. So it seems sensible that if you are looking to get into a capital grant, Mid or Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship agreement you should continue with your application as normal. If you want help with your mid-Tier applications, we are currently running one-to-one clinics across the South West, on behalf of Natural England. You can call us on 01823 663074 to arrange an appointment.
As a member of FWAG SouthWest we will keep you informed of any updates to Countryside Stewardship, as well as other relevant topics, and try to reduce uncertainty where we can.
FWAG SouthWest is an adaptable and flexible charity and, although some of our funding is directly from the EU, we have a wide and varied mix of funding streams for our projects that will allow us to weather this, hopefully brief, storm. We shall continue to look for the new opportunities that a Brexit may create for us and will try to shape the future of agri-environment schemes in Britain.
Rather than “living in interesting times” being a curse, I shall look on it as an opportunity.
General Manager – FWAG South West