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Wales Sustainable Farming Scheme final consultation opens for comments

20th December 2023

The Welsh Government have opened their final consultation before implementing the new Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) in 2025. The consultation documents offer us much more detailed insight into the scheme and how the Government propose to transition away from BPS. We have summarised some of the main points of the consultation, but bear in mind that these are still subject to change. The consultation is open for comments until 7th March 2024. To read the full details and put your views forward go to:

It is proposed to have a Transition Period between 2025 and 2029 which will see farmers gradually move from BPS to the new SFS. In this Transition Period farmers can chose to continue with the BPS payments, at a decreasing rate each year, or move to SFS.

In 2025 the SFS Universal Actions will be open for applications and Farmers will need to carry out these all these Actions to receive the Universal Baseline Payment. Further Optional and Collaborative Actions will be introduced between 2025 and 2029.

Some examples of the Universal Actions include:

  • 6 hours CPD each year
  • Benchmarking – an annual self assessment which will need entering into a Welsh Gov website annually
  • Soil test a minimum of 20% of your farm each year
  • Ponds   
    • all farms over 80ha should have at least 2 ponds or scrapes totalling 2000m²
    • all farms under 80ha should have at least 2 ponds or scrapes totalling 1000m²

There are many more Universal Actions and farmers will need to comply with all of them that apply to their farm to get the Universal Baseline Payment.

The Scheme Rules will also apply to all farmers and include the requirement that at least 10% of each farm should be actively managed as habitat (this includes temporary habitat such as mixed leys), and at least 10% of each farm should be tree cover. Broadleaf woodland can count towards both 10% trees and 10% habitat, but conifer woodland only counts towards 10% habitat target. There will be allowences made for land unsuitable for tree planting, such as SSSIs, or where tenancy agreeements do not allow tenants to plant trees.

The 15th May deadline will remain and there will be a SAF-style form to submit every year to claim the payment.

In 2024 the BPS scheme will stay the same, although we are still awaiting to hear the budget to know how much the payment will be. The amount of money available to farmers under SFS scheme is also unknown.

In 2025 farmers can chose to either stay with the BPS payments up until 2029, or move to SFS. Once you’ve moved to SFS you cannot return to the BPS.

  1. If you move to SFS you will get paid for the Universal Actions plus a Stability Payment which will ensure your SFS payment equals what you would have received if you’d stayed in BPS.
  2. If you stay in BPS your payments will reduce each year as below. You need to have a valid 2024 BPS claim to continue with BPS in 2025.
BPS Entitlement Value, Redistributive Payment and Young Farmer Payment
80% payment60% payment40% payment20% payment0% payment

Please note that these are still only proposals and the scheme could change significantly between now and 2025. We have summarized some of the main proposals but there is much more proposed within the full consultation documents which can be found here:

There are also other grant schemes now available to farmers including the Yard Coverings Grant, Small grants for double fencing and other boundary works, the Nutrient Management Investment Scheme for muck stores and more, and new schemes due from 2025 will include the Animal Health and Improvement Cycle, Integrated Natural Resources Scheme and the National Peatland Action Programme.

If you’d like to know more or would like assistance in the move from BPS to SFS please do no hesitate to contact your nearest office.