Agricultural Transition Plan: Agri-environment agreements

Field margins supporting pollinators

Countryside Stewardship throughout transition

On the 30 November 2020, Defra published the long anticipated Agricultural Transition Plan: ‘The Path to a Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021-2024’. The Agricultural Transition Plan (ATP) covers the agricultural transition period which starts in 2021 and runs to 2027, whereby Defra will reduce and eventually stop direct payments. Defra plans to invest the money freed up by stopping direct payments, to support agriculture in different ways and by allowing the opportunity to access new schemes. Defra will pay farmers to improve the environment, improve animal health and welfare and reduce carbon emissions. The ATP sets out the changes Defra will make and what these will mean to farmers.

The APT sets out details on how Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES) will operate throughout the transition period (present – 2024) to the Environmental Land Management scheme(ELMs). ELMs will be rolled out fully in autumn 2024. Until then CS will be open to new applicants. The final application for CS will be in 2023, with agreements that begin in January 2024. Countryside Stewardship application window is now closed but will reopen to new applicants in February 2021. Any agreements starting from January 2021 will be operating under domestic regulations. Those agreements existing before January 2021, or on an extension (CS or HLS) will remain under EU regulations.

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