Farmers thinking of joining the entry level and higher level environmental stewardship schemes now have four new options to access the so-called “green money”.

Announced by junior DEFRA minister Jeff Rooker at the Royal Show they are:

  • Maintaining weatherproof traditional farm buildings
  • Extending mixed stocking to LFA grassland to provide habitats for farmland birds
  • Promoting grazing by cattle to benefit plants, invertebrates and farmland birds
  • Promoting use of “at risk” native breeds to graze difficult terrain to achieve conservation objectives.

“In particular, the option for maintenance of weatherproof traditional farm buildings and the extension of the mixed stocking option to the LFAs should provide an extra boost for uptake of the scheme,” said Lord Rooker.

“This is also the first time that we have provided a payment for native breeds at risk and it demonstrates the government’s desire to conserve our genetic heritage.”

The Country Land and Business Association said the new options would allow more flexibility and would benefit the environment.

“But the CLA feels it is grossly unfair that they are not available to those who have already entered the scheme,” said CLA conservation adviser Ben Underwood.

So far over 20,000 environmental stewardship agreements have been signed, covering 3m ha.