31 May 2023
by Oli Hill, Andrew Pearson

Defra makes "improved offer" for upland farms and launches resilience fund


Changes to the government’s farming schemes aimed at improving accessibility for upland farmers have been revealed, with increased payment rates and more options under Countryside Stewardship.

The "improved offer" announced by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on 26 May has been introduced to support upland farmers as sustainable food producers and custodians of the countryside.

Following feedback from upland farmers and industry representatives, the changes include making payment rates in environmental land management schemes equal for both upland and lowland farms where they are carrying out the same actions. This means upland farmers will see enhanced rates in four Countryside Stewardship options.

Defra says it is reviewing and amending a further seven Countryside Stewardship options make them more accessible to upland farmers and has pledged to improve engagement with upland farmers by focusing advice and support to help them access schemes.

Visit the GOV.UK website for further details of the announcement.

Payments uplift

Thérèse Coffey, Defra Secretary of State, said: "These changes will support the delivery of the government’s pledge to ensure there is something for every type of farmer in their new schemes, as direct land-based payments are phased out.   

"Rewarding farmers for low inputs on grasslands in upland areas, which previously earned farmers £98 per hectare, will increase to £151 - the same payment farmers elsewhere receive.

"At the upper end of the scale, creation of upland wood pasture will increase from £333 per hectare to £544 to align payments for upland and lowland farmers.

"Following feedback from farmers, there will also be improvements made to existing offers within Countryside Stewardship, with details to follow as part of the full 2024 offer in the summer."

Go to the Farming and Countryside Stewardship page of AIC's website for related news and briefings.

£12.5 million fund to boost agricultural productivity and sustainability launched

Applications are now open for Defra's new £12.5 million "On-Farm Environmental Resilience" competition to fund innovative projects which contribute towards a more productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector.

Farmers and growers can apply for up to £1 million in project costs to drive the development of new technology and innovative farming methods. Applications will close on 19 July.

Visit the GOV.UK website for full details and guidance on how to apply.

Meanwhile up to £30 million is set to be awarded to more than 50 successful projects that will boost food production, move towards net zero, and create a more resilient and sustainable agricultural sector. 

The funding is part of the Farming Innovation Programme, run in partnership with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and delivered by Innovate UK, which is making £270 million in grants available before the end of the agricultural transition.

Visit the UKRI website for further details on funding.


Oli Hill

Oli Hill

Communications Manager, AIC

As Communications Manager, Oli creates and oversees the content published on AIC's website, emails, Member briefings, print publications, and social media.

A qualified multimedia journalist, he previously spent six years working at Farmers Weekly magazine as a Senior Reporter on the arable team, and latterly as Community Editor. More recently he was Communications Manager at Red Tractor.

[email protected]
01733 385230

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Andrew Pearson

Andrew Pearson

Policy Manager, AIC

[email protected]
07464 540421

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