Following the publication of the Government’s Agricultural Transition Plan in November 2020 further details are continuing to emerge regarding the schemes to replace the Basic Payment Scheme which is due to be phased out by 2027.
The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is due to be launched mid-2022 to all Basic Payment Scheme recipients. This is one of three new components that will make up the Environmental Land Management Scheme (the others being local nature recovery and landscape recovery, both of which will be piloted next year). The SFI will pay farmers for actions they take (going beyond regulatory requirements) to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way. Actions will be grouped into packages set out as standards. Further details of these standards have now been released as farmers have been invited to make applications to enter a pilot scheme for the SFI which will run from October 2021. During the first phase of piloting participants will select from a set of 8 standards to build their agreements. Within each standard there will be three levels for participants to choose from – introductory, intermediate, and advanced. These standards and proposed payment rates are set out below:
The idea of this approach is to enable farmers to develop an agreement that works for their business. It is also planned for the scheme to expand over time. It will start with a core set of sustainable farming actions, which will build incrementally as more funding becomes available from the reductions in BPS payments.
Further information will be forthcoming in the summer as to the details for each standard and the 3 different levels. The payment rates for these options are also being continuously reviewed prior to the launch in 2022.
In the meantime, the countryside stewardship scheme remains available for those wishing to enter a scheme sooner and ‘plug the gap’ that will be left from diminishing BPS payments. DEFRA have stated that anyone in a countryside stewardship scheme that starts after January 2021 who secures a place in the environmental land management scheme will be able to withdraw and transfer to the new scheme with no penalty at agreed exit points.
View the full copy of our spring edition of Rural Intelligence for Farms & Estates here.