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Sustainable Farming Incentive- Latest update

7th April 2022

With the movement of England Agricultural Transition Period, this has seen many changes to BPS payments, leaving Farmers and Landowners several options- Delinked payment or the Lump Sum Exit scheme. This has left many farmers and landowners concerned about the next steps to farming and how if any money they can get of the Government. We have seen over previous weeks the current uncertainties both people in the UK, as well as the World are facing, which is creating more pressing demands on the agricultural industry, to supply food.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive Scheme has been outlined by DEFRA to launch in June 2022. This being one of the schemes to be incorporated into the ELM’s (Environmental Land Management) schemes. This has been trialled for nearly 2 years, from Farmers and Landowners across England and through several tests and trials, has allowed, from June 2022 to be offered and claimed by all Farmers and Landowners who are currently claiming BPS on over 5 hectares on land. The longer term aim to be extended and offered to more people.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive offers agreements of 3 years in which amendments can be made every 12 months. This is a change from the Country Stewardship Mid Tier and Higher Tier schemes being 5-year schemes with no flexibility once a scheme is put in place. Also, the flexibility of the SFI means that Farmers don’t have to put all their land in the first year and can add as much or as little as they like over the three years. As well as being more accessible, there is also no requirement for landlord permission for the tenant to enter the scheme in 2022 yet checking their tenancy agreement to check they can apply is fundamental.

Another key point added to the Sustainable Farming Incentive is there will be no fixed penalty for exiting the scheme within the 3 years under exceptional circumstances, such as loss of management control on their land.

Currently the SFI includes 8 standards (over up to three ambition levels) that Farmers/Land managers can apply for that provide different payment rates including arable and horticultural land, arable and horticultural soils, farm woodland, hedgerows, improved grassland, improved grassland soils, low and no input grassland and water buffering. Additionally, DEFRA announced yesterday that they are looking to also include a Moorland and rough grazing standard so that all land types are inclusive within the scheme.

Within the pilots taken over the last year, DEFRA have been working with Farmers and other land managers to manage and conserve to benefit the ecosystem services. As a result of this, when the grant scheme opens, Farmers/land managers will be able to apply for different ambition levels to different parcels on their farm. The test and trials have proven beneficial to DEFRA, listening to farmers and their conflicting views specifically in areas such as minimum tillage/ no tillage techniques, has meant that offering these elements in the first release DEFRA felt was too early to lack of information and needing more time for testing and understanding.

Further details on some standards are listed below:

Arable and Horticultural Soils Standards specifics:

  • Available at 2 levels- introductory (£22/hectare per year) or intermediate (£40/hectare per year)
  • Both levels will require farmers to:
    • Test soils for organic matter
      • Develop a soil plan
        • Ensure winter cover crops are in place for 70% of entered land
        • Apply organic matter each year to 1/3of the land entered
  • Intermediate level will also require a sown green cover crop in place over the winter months for 20% of the entered land.

Grassland Soils Standard specifics:

  • Available at 2 levels- introductory (£28/hectare per year) or intermediate (£58/hectare per year)
  • Both levels will require farmers to:
    • Test soils for organic matter
      • Develop a soil management plan
        • Ensure at least 95% green cover on land over the winter months
  • The intermediate level requires that herbal leys are established and maintained on 15% of the area entered.

Moorland and Rough Grazing Standard Specifics:

  • Will only be available on land above the Moorland Line, with the release in 2022 at the introductory level only of (£148/agreement and £6.45/hectare)
  • Farmers need to assess their moorland by looking at:
  • Soil types
  • Peat depth
  • Associated vegetation
  • Intermediate and advanced levels will apply in future years

For more information, please call:

Oswestry Office- 01691 655334

Welshpool Office- 01938 554499