By Mark Barrow, associate director, H&H Land and Estates:

MY DIARY entry has coincided with the July 31 deadline for Mid Tier Stewardship applications to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA)

Anyone involved in these applications this year will know that additional emphasis has been placed on the farmer and their agent to collate and justify why the grant funding is required before even starting to work on the application paperwork.

Usually your local catchment-sensitive advisor would visit, but with coronavirus restrictions they have not been allowed or able to do so. The grant seems to be much more competitive this year and, having submitted many more applications than in previous years, there was certainly a sigh of relief yesterday when they were all completed and submissions were made.

As we all know, it has been much harder to complete capital grant works over the past few months than it is usually. As a result, I am very pleased with the recent kind gesture from the RPA.

For those who were successful and entered into agreements between April 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019 - to roof over muck middens/silage clamps, concrete yards and restore boundaries - the RPA has just agreed to grant a year’s extension to complete these works.

On another encouraging note, we are seeing positivity in the land and property market at all levels - with property transactions and investment taking place. We have seen a number of new instructions and secured lending valuations increases.

As people reassess their lifestyles, working practices and locations for living, there has and continues to be a significant and increased interest in rural properties.

Earlier this month we held the much-anticipated, socially-distanced, on-farm auction of Dove House Farm, near Crooklands, which sold well over the guide. We are currently collating properties for our next group property auction and will release details of this shortly.