New Facilitation Funding and Proposed Rother Valley Group Farm Project

Meeting of farmers and land managers on 18th November at 2 pm at Coultershaw Mill, Petworth

The introduction of a competitive facilitation fund as part of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) offers great opportunities for farmers where they can achieve complementary management and enhance the environment on a landscape rather than whole farm scale. For the last four years the Arun and Rother Rivers Trust (ARTT) has been actively working with farmers and local communities to help improve the quality of both the water and riverside habitats along the Arun & Rother. This has complemented other targeted activity through both Catchment Sensitive Farming and more generally through the Higher Level Scheme because of the high importance of the river.

Although facilitation funding is a very new concept and the CSS is significantly different to the ELS / HLS which it replaces it is clear that there is great potential to submit an exciting bid if there is sufficient interest from farmers on the ground. Tim Lock, who is a Trustee for ARRT as well as farming at Houghton, and Colin Hedley, an experienced consultant who will be a facilitator for the recent successful CSS bid from the Arun to Adur Farmers’ Group, have been discussing the opportunities for farmers in the Rother Catchment with the ARRT board. At a time of great price volatility and high input costs the financial security offered through well managed agri-environment schemes can be vital and the new CSS has a structure and options which could be more attractive to those who have been cautious of committing to the ELS and HLS in the past.

If a bid was successful then this will increase the chances of acceptance and probably the level of income when individual farmers apply for the CSS. Soil management is obviously a major issue, especially when weather patterns are becoming more extreme, and is fundamental to farm profitability as well as the vitality of the ground as a living system. The bid could provide funding for ongoing specialist training and advice to help improve management on your farms to achieve real and practical improvements. There are also other longterm benefits which could be gained through the activity and profile of a new Farmers Group. For instance marketing of farm enterprises and the real opportunity to secure additional funding for delivering eco-system services such as from water companies.

We are organizing a meeting of interested farmers and land managers on 18th November at 2 pm in the meeting room behind Coultershaw Mill, Petworth (GU28 0TE for satnav). However we do need to gauge interest from you now as we believe that the best chance of success comes from having a well-motivated farmer led group. If you are interested in finding out more about what the bid process and a successful project entails please reply by email to Tracy Thurlow and we will ensure we contact you again with an invitation to the November meeting.

Tim Lock
Houghton Farm
Trustee of ARRT
CJH Agri-Environment Consultants Ltd
Colin Hedley
21 Lower Grove Road
Havant, Hants PO9 1AS
023 92 498229
07866 443053