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Sustainable Farming Incentive opens for applications

Farmers across England can now apply to the Sustainable Farming Incentive.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive has today (30 June 2022) 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 Sustainable Farming Incentive is the first of three new environmental land management schemes being introduced under the Agricultural Transition Plan, the UK’s new system of farming now we are outside the EU which 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. Defra has worked with more than 4,000 farmers to test and trial the new approach.

Defra is opening the scheme in a controlled rollout from 30 June to manage the opening in a careful, measured way: for those with no other agri-environment agreements, they’ll be able to apply online straight away; for everyone else, they’ll 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. This is to ensure everyone receives the right level of service and support during this initial phase of rollout.

The scheme will open with two soil standards recognising the importance of healthy soil for successful farming and the environment, and a Moorland standard where we will pay farmers to assess the condition of the Moorland as a basis for further action in future through our existing and new schemes.

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.

Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, said:

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is designed to be accessible and recognises the importance of domestic food production to our national resilience. Farmers will receive payment within three months of their agreements starting, and payment rates are more targeted and less prescriptive than previous EU schemes. We want to support farmers with the choices they take for their farms, and I urge them to apply.

Defra has taken a number of steps to make the scheme accessible to farmers by making it more straightforward to apply and simplifying the requirements, allowing farmers the flexibility to decide how best to achieve the standards set out in the scheme and how much of their land they want to put into SFI.

Farmers will receive their first payment three months after joining and will receive quarterly payments thereafter. There will also be no old-style application window, allowing farmers to enrol in the SFI scheme at any point in the year that is suitable for them.


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