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Changes to the SFI Scheme announced

23rd May 2024

The RPA have announced changes to the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) to make it more accessible for farmers, with over 100 Actions to chose from and new entrants will also be pleased to hear that the RPA have changed the eligibility criteria, meaning there is no longer a requirement to have claimed BPS in 2023 to be eligible.

We have seen great success with the SFI scheme so far, and since January 2024 Roger Parry & Partners have secured over £2 million pounds of SFI agreements for our clients.

Some of the new Actions are very similar to options previously within the Countryside Stewardship scheme which closed last year, so will be familiar to some, but there are new payments for Actions which we haven’t seen before. Some examples include:

  • Maintaining traditional farm buildings £5/m²
  • Low input harvested cereal crop £354/ha
  • Limited livestock grazing on moorland £66/ha
  • Organic conversion payments £298/ha
  • Precsion farming between £27-£150/ha
  • Native breeds on habitat land between £7-92/ha
  • Seasonal livestock removal £115/ha
  • Ditch and pond management
  • Manage grassland to reduce nutrient levels in groundwater £396/ha

Farmers who have considered SFI up until now but not submitted an application should ensure they re-read the rules fully before submitting an application. The RPA have changed some of the rules in the old Actions, such as SAM3 Herbal Leys, so be careful you know what you’re signing up to in the new SFI.

The RPA have also changed the rules around applications for some Actions on field parcels with HEFER features (Historic Environment Farm Environment Record). The HEFER lists the known historic and archaeological features on a land holding and provides advice on how to protect and enhance them, including which SFI Actions can’t be located on the same area as them. Previously if your field had even just 0.01 hectare of a feature recorded then it would render the whole field ineligible for actions such as Herbal Leys or Legumes in Improved Grassland. In a welcome change, the rules have been amended to say that you only need to exclude the actual HEFER feature area from the Action, not the whole field.

The new Actions will open the scheme up to more farmers who may have not found anything suitable in the current SFI offer. In 2024 the BPS payment will be reduced 50% so we’d urge anyone to give the SFI good consideration in order to replace the reducing BPS subsidy, and in particular new farmers who haven’t been able to claim anything so far.

The SFI is currently closed for applications whilst the RPA update the computer system. We expect it to partially re-open from late June.

The Countryside Stewardship Capital Grants scheme is still open for applications and we have many successful applications approved for our clients, with regular applications being submitted in excess of £50,000.

The full list of new Actions can be found here. For more information please contact your nearest office for help and advice.