With the dissolving of the Hill Farm Allowance (HFA), any farmer in who is not involved in a “classic” scheme such as the Countryside Stewardship Scheme or an ESA, the only way to ensure that the HFA income is replaced is to enter into UELS. This is the message from agents George F. White.
The Uplands Entry Level Stewardship scheme has recently received a lot of press coverage about the apparent poor uptake by farmers in the SDA. George F. White LLP highlight some of the reasons they fear may be the cause of some of the hesitancy behind the apparent poor uptake. These maybe:
- the fear of further inspections by DEFRA
- restrictive to the farming systems, especially production led systems
- tied in for 5 years
Andrew Pinny of the Alnwick office says: “the positives of the scheme can outweigh any potential changes that may have to be made” and explains that the benefits of the scheme are:
- Guaranteed income over the five years
- Replacement income to HFA to balance out cashflow
- Correct decisions over specific options may not affect farming practises at all
Andrew explains further: “In most cases a well thought out scheme will enable the farmer to get the most financial benefit from the scheme without tying himself in knots with onerous management options.”
There are a number of management options which the majority of farmers currently undertake, which go unrewarded if not involved in UELS, one such option is ‘Mixed Stocking’ for example. This may be common practise on a holding which when entered into UELS can be used a way of gathering the points required for entry, without affecting the farming practise at all.
UELS is an open ended scheme with rolling start dates despite the common misconception that applications have to be made by a set deadline – however the earlier an application is lodged the earlier the first 6 month period can start, leading to an earlier first payment.
George F. White has offices in Alnwick and Tyne Valley in Northumberland, Wolsingham and Barnard Castle in County Durham, Bedale in North Yorkshire, Shiptonthorpe near York and Park Lane in London www.georgefwhite.co.uk.
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