The application window for 2024 Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier agreements has been extended until 15 September following feedback from farmers.
Defra has confirmed today (18 August) that the scheme will be extended to allow farmers more time to submit their applications online.
The department said there have been 'some technical issues' experienced by a small number of farmers when submitting their applications, which have 'now been resolved'.
Defra said: "The Rural Payment Agency has been working closely with affected applicants and agents to support applications.
"Actions [have been] taken to resolve issues as quickly as possible and systems put in place to assist farmers through the process.
"Further improvements to the online system are already in train, including greater flexibility over when farmers can apply and how they manage their agreements."
The scheme is popular in the sector and has continually evolved following farmer feedback, with 32,000 agreements already in place across England for 2023.
This represents a 94% increase in uptake since 2020 – including nearly 26,000 Mid Tier agreements – and additional investment has been put into online systems to increase capacity.
Defra Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “It is important that we listen to farmers who are key custodians of the countryside
“I think it right we extend the application window for Countryside Stewardship this year to make sure that those who want to apply for this scheme can – building on the great success we have had with this scheme to date.”
The announcement follows previous improvements and evolutions to Countryside Stewardship following farmer feedback.
These include an average increase of 10% for revenue payment rates and 48% for capital payment rates, as announced in January.