DEFRA denies budget cut causing stewardship angst



DEFRA has moved to play down concern that pressure to cut costs could make it harder for farmers to join Environmental Stewardship.


In response to a suggestion that the recent call for it to trim its spending by £200m in six months had resulted in a big cut in the HLS budget and hiked qualification targets, a spokesperson said:


“DEFRA and the Rural Development Service remain committed to delivery of ES both in terms of the wider Entry Level strand, open to all farmers, and to the Higher Level strand targeted at delivering high value environmental benefits.”


Recently announced Treasury objectives to make departmental savings had no impact on ES scheme budgets and there had been no reduction in their funding, said a spokesperson. However the size of the budget for the next programme 2007-2013 remained under discussion within the EU.


“It has always been the case that the HLS is a competitive scheme with a cash limited budget,” she said.


Have you been turned down for the HLS? Might it be because the entry hurdles have been raised or the cash has run out? What’s your view? Let us know on our forum pages.