Ragwort growing in a field margin©FLPA/Rex

Full details of the government’s Countryside Stewardship scheme will be available online by the end of this week, according to Defra.

The scheme launched on 1 July. But a lack of terms and conditions meant growers and livestock producers were unable to press ahead with fully informed applications – despite being given just three months to apply.

See also: Stewardship scheme launches – but without full details

A Defra spokeswoman told Farmers Weekly the full terms and conditions would now be published online as an update to the scheme manual.

“Until the terms and conditions are published, farmers don’t know what they are letting themselves in for.”
Andrew Clark, NFU

They will be published as Section 8 of the manual on the government website.

“The terms and conditions have been finalised and we have shared these with key groups and individuals.

“We have worked closely with the industry to make sure all of the Countryside Stewardship guidance is clear and straightforward for farmers and land managers.”

The government’s handling of the scheme launch has come under fire.

Even if full details are published imminently, the delay means farmers will now have little more than two months to apply during the busy harvest period before the scheme closes again on 30 September.

NFU policy director Andrew Clark said: “Until the terms and conditions are published, farmers don’t know what they are letting themselves in for.

“Our advice is that farmers shouldn’t formally enter the scheme until they know what they are committing to.”