The Sustainable Farming Incentive has opened for applications in England. The scheme is available to all farmers who currently receive Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments, designed to be accessible, and will reward sustainable practices which support food production and benefit the environment.
The scheme is the first of three new environmental land management schemes being introduced under the Agricultural Transition Plan, the UK’s new system of farming, which the Government says is designed in the best interests of English farmers. The schemes will ensure long-term food security by investing in the foundations of food production: healthy soil, water, and biodiverse ecosystems.
In 2022, there will be three standards available, with different levels and payments. Those are:
- Arable and horticultural soils: £22 per hectare for introductory and £40 per hectare for intermediate.
- Improved grassland soils: £28 per hectare for introductory and £58 per hectare for intermediate.
- Moorland: £10.30 per hectare for introductory and an additional payment of £265 per hectare.
There will also be an additional annual payment of £6.15 per hectare (ha) for common land entered into a separate SFI standards agreement. In the future, more standards will be introduced. Applicants will be able to add these to their agreement, as well as increase levels and add land.
This is the initial rollout of the scheme – which will be expanded over the next three years as Direct Payments are reduced. The full set of standards will be in place by 2025. Farmers will receive their first payment three months after joining and will receive quarterly payments thereafter.
Those with no other agri-environment agreements will be able to apply online straight away. Everyone else will be asked to let the Rural Payment Agency (RPA) know they want to apply, and RPA will get in touch and support them to do so.
Applications will remain open, so interested parties can apply at a time that works best for them. If it is necessary to close applications, this date will be publicised, giving applicants six weeks’ notice.
Read more here.