Grant Windows Open
Applications are invited for funding from the £10 million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund administered by the Environment Agency. Grants of £10,000 up to £100,000 are available for projects that help tackle climate change, improve water quality or create and restore habitats. These might include woodland creation, peatland restoration, wildlife habitat establishment, coastal wetland generation and river catchment restoration. The window is open from 10th February to 26th March. The application window for 2022 agreements under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme has also opened, on 9th February. There have been a number of improvements for this round.
Pigmeat Market Collapse
The price of pigmeat has plummeted as a surplus in Europe has hit the market. Despite the huge loss of pigs in China due to African swine fever, imports from Germany were banned when the disease was found in wild boar there. As a result over 200,000 tonnes have come onto markets in Europe, depressing prices to below the cost of production. Emergency talks are being held with Defra Ministers to alleviate the crisis.
Tenants ready to Retire
A survey of 360 tenant farmers by the Tenant Farmers Association shows that three quarters would consider retiring depending on the value of the Government incentive. A retirement package is due to be introduced next year that would enable farmers to take their remaining Basic Payment as a lump sum if they leave the industry and make way for new entrants. The Basic Payment Scheme is to be phased out by 2027. Details of the scheme have yet to be announced.
Bird Population Success
Amongst all the doom and gloom of dramatically declining bird populations, there are some encouraging reports. In a list of bird population trends published by Defra last November, some species show a strong increase in number including cirl bunting, stonechat and collared dove. Many are water birds such as avocet, merganser, gadwall and greylag geese or raptors such as red kite and buzzard. Hen harriers are recovering under the Joint Action Plan with last year being the most successful breeding season for 35 years. A mocking bird from North America has even been spotted in Devon!