By FWi staff

CONSERVATION-minded farmers are urged to apply early for extra money available under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

MAFF increased funds recently for new stewardship agreements, making 16 million available this year, compared with 7.5m in 1999/2000.

Overall the total stewardship budget for 2000/01 is 35m, including funding for two- and three-year agreements. This budget will increase to 51m in 2001/02.

FWAGs technical director, Richard Knight welcomed the news saying that, although the Countryside Stewardship scheme is competitive.

Not all applications are successful, though farmers working with FWAG in the past had a high success rate, he adds. In 1998, almost 70% working with FWAG succeeded, compared with an average of 50%.

The organisation expects a record number of applications this year and advises farmers to apply as soon as possible.