Grants for converting and maintaining organic land - England
Organic funding in England
The funding application window for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) is now open until 29th July 2022, providing a chance for farmers, growers and land managers in England to convert and manage their farms to organic standards.
The CSS provides funding for farmers and land managers in England to make environmental improvements. This includes financial support for farmers to convert to organic and manage their farms to organic standards.
Get to the information you need:
Making the right choice for your farm: Countryside Stewardship Scheme and future Environmental Land Management Schemes
The new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) are expected to come into effect from 2022-2025. The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) takes the form of Standards, the first of which will be launched in 2022, culminating with an organic standard in 2025. Organic Farmers will also qualify for the highest level of payments through the SFI soil standard. Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery will both be preceded by small 'pilots' and will launch in 2024.
After 2024, farmers will be able to leave their existing countryside stewardship/environmental stewardship agreements without penalty, if they wish to join the new schemes - so this shouldn’t be a deterrent for applying for available funding or extending existing agreements.
The UK organic market has now entered its eleventh consecutive year of growth. And with Countryside Stewardship Scheme funding available for organic production, there are economic opportunities for farmers to certify and convert to organic.
CSS is a five-year agreement and organic conversion funding includes increased payments for the first two years, providing a financial boost for farmers through their conversion period.
Listen to farmers discussing resilience in organic at ORFC:
The Soil Association 2021, ‘Does it stack up?’ report found that net farm income has continued to increase for organic cropping farms, resulting in a significantly higher figure when compared to non-organic. The ‘Does it stack up?’ webinar discusses the financial opportunities in organic farming by sector drawing on rural business survey data, real-life case studies and expert industry insights. Watch the webinar.
CSS rates are now on average 30% higher for most types of farmland, with increases of between 50-110% for conversion rates. These rate changes are inclusive of all existing agreement holders, with effect from January 2022. Compare the new and previous rates here.
5-year agreements are available for organic conversion and maintenance. For organic conversion agreements, higher conversion payments will be paid for up to 2 years for most crops, with subsequent years paid at the management rate.
Already organic and coming to the end of your current CSS agreement?
Maintenance agreements are also available for farmers who already manage organic land and will be paid at the maintenance rate for the full five years.
Despite increased rates overall, it is disappointing to see a reduced management payment rate for improved grassland, and this has been raised with Defra to gain further understanding. We suspect that this may be due to organic farmers being more highly rewarded in the upcoming Sustainable Farming Incentive, within ELMS.
Organic Conversion and Management Rates (per hectare)
- Rotational land:
- Conversion rate (years 1-2): £256
- Management rate (years 3-5): £109
- Improved permanent grassland:
- Conversion rate (years 1-2): £150
- Management rate (years 3-5): £20
- Unimproved permanent grassland:
- Conversion rate (years 1-2): £76
- Management rate (years 3-5): £31
- Horticultural land:
- Conversion rate (years 1-2): £602
- Management rate (years 3-5): £380
- Top fruit:
- Conversion rate (years 1-2): £960
- Management rate (years 3-5): £960
- Enclosed rough grazing:
- Conversion rate (years 1-2): N/A
- Management rate (years 3-5): £48
*Other CSS options and items can be included in the agreement if they are compatible with organic status.
Get in touch for more information on application or read on to find out more about financial support.
Mid-tier dates (encompassing a range of options and capital items that together help to deliver a broad range of environmental benefits)
- 27th May 2022: deadline for email or phone application pack request (If you make your application online you will not need to do this)
- 29th July 2022: Application deadline
- Agreements will start on 1st January 2023 and last for 5 years
For more information on key dates, refer to the Countryside Stewardship (CS): Mid Tier and Wildlife Offers manual for agreements starting on 1 January 2023.
- You must apply for the Countryside Stewardship funding directly with the Rural Payments Agency.
- You must also register with an organic certification body such as Soil Association Certification.
- You can register with an organic certification body either before or after applying for Countryside Stewardship funding.
And there are different ways to get started, depending on which step you take first:
- Register with a certification body like Soil Association Certification before applying for Countryside Stewardship funding: You must complete a conversion plan, which must be approved and signed off by an organic certification body like Soil Association Certification. We can help - Get in touch with our expert farming team to discuss how we can support you.
- Register with a certification body like Soil Association Certification after applying for Countryside Stewardship funding: If you want to apply for funding via the Rural Payments Agency before registering and having had a Conversion Plan approved by a certification body, you must complete a Viability Plan, which must be submitted to the Rural Payments Agency along with your funding application. If you use a Viability Plan you must get an approved and signed-off Conversion Plan from your organic certification body and have started conversion before the agreement start date of 1st Jan 2023.
Certifying with Soil Association Certification
If you choose to certify with Soil Association Certification, we offer discounted conversion fees to support you through your transition period. Find out more about the steps you can take to prepare your farm for organic conversion and the application process and fees.Why certify with us?
Our expert farming certification team can talk you through how organic conversion and certification could work on your farm.
Speak to our team
I’ve been encouraged by the support that I’ve received from the technical and certification teams – certifying with them has enabled me to meet the high organic farming standards whilst farming in a practical and realistic way.Joe Rolfe