Amy and Gillyflower (2-year-old heifers) in the frostSources of income and marketing opportunities

There have been significant changes in agricultural funding in recent years. All farmed land qualifies for the Single Payment Scheme. This pays approximately 200/ha per year, depending upon past history and which year. In addition, some land qualifies for the Entry Level Stewardship scheme (ELS), which is paid on all qualifying land. Then there is a more complex Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS), which is funded on a competitive basis and targeted at the most important sites. English Nature also supports SSSI management through its Wildlife Enhancement Scheme. (This is all for England -- there are equivalent schemes in the rest of Britain). In the targeted schemes there are usually payments towards capital costs such as fencing, water supply and scrub clearance, plus a menu of annual area-based payments. Area payments vary with habitat and management regime, typically between 60 and 300 per hectare.

The agreement is usually with the owner or tenant, but they depend upon grazing management to qualify. On poorer quality land, conservation grazing may be rent-free, or a proportion of the income can be passed on to the grazier.

Conservation grazing provides good opportunities for niche marketing. For people who care about the environmental and welfare implications of their food, conservation-reared meat is a good choice. The animals eat natural food, live a fulfilled and interesting life -- and save the countryside!

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) operates the Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing Scheme through its network of accredited butchers and finishing units. English Nature also has the Traditional Breeds Incentive (TBI). This is a supplement for SSSIs managed using traditional breeds -- including British Whites. It pays up to 60 per hectare per year (less for larger sites) on top of an existing agri-environment agreement, with a ceiling of 3,000 per scheme.

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