Defra sets out plans for Sustainable Farming Incentive

December 8, 2021

On 2nd December, Environment Secretary George Eustice set out his vision for farming today, including outlining plans for the new Sustainable Farming Incentive, the first of the new environmental land management schemes.

Speaking at the CLA conference, he said: “here is a food manufacturer in every parliamentary constituency in the UK – except Westminster. These manufacturers provide employment opportunities in areas where there might otherwise be deprivation. They offer opportunities to apprentices; they invest in research and development and they give local areas a sense of pride and identity.”

Farmers will receive payment for taking actions which generate environmental benefits, such as improving grasslands or soils. With nearly 1,000 farmers signed up to the pilot, the new scheme will now be rolled out to farmers who farm more than 5 hectares of land and are eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme next year.

Keith Halstead, Executive Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “We welcome this further information from Defra on the Sustainable Farming Incentive and hope that it will provide some certainty to farm businesses and enable them to plan for their future. It is vital that as the SFI develops, it remains accessible to smaller farming families in order to protect their unique contribution to the British countryside, our food systems and our precious landscape.”

Key points of the Sustainable Farming Initiative (SFI) include:

  • SFI will be administered by the Rural Payments Agency, and farmers who are eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme will be available for the SFI.
  • SFI agreements will last for three years, with some annual flexibility to amend agreements.
  • The first SFI application window will open in 2022 with payments to be made before the end of the year; payments are to be made in quarterly instalments.

Full information on the SFI can be found here.