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Government to Launch Enhanced Sustainable Farming Incentive from July

Full details of the expanded and improved Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) offer available to farmers from July have been published by the government today (Tuesday 21 May).

The expanded SFI offer will be open to new entrants for the first time and will initially comprise 102 actions, designed in collaboration with the agricultural sector, including over 20 new options to support more sustainable food production, – with payments for precision farming, agroforestry, a new and expanded offer for upland farmers and more actions for tenants on short-term contracts. Sticking to the plan for agriculture, the new actions will help farmers to reduce input costs and boost yields, says the government.

In addition, further new actions will support flood preparedness, helping businesses to become more resilient to the changing climate and challenging weather conditions.

The SFI works for all farmers, including tenant and upland farmers. With improved choice and payment rates, the current scheme is on track to be the most popular ever, with 23,000 applications received, a government spokesperson said.

More than 50 simplified actions from Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier will be merged into SFI to streamline the application process for farmers. They include a number of actions where durations have been reduced from 5 to 3 years to align with the needs of tenant farmers. In addition to the expanded offer, the government has also launched a new digital tool known as ‘Find funding for land or farms’ to signpost customers toward the funding that is available to them.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: "I recognise that farmers have had to deal with difficult circumstances this year, which is why we have delivered on our commitment to provide further detail on the expanded SFI offer ahead of applications opening in July.

"The new expanded SFI offer gives farmers more choice, makes things easier and pays out more, so they can get on with the important job of producing high quality food in a sustainable way.

"It has also been confirmed that the application window for CS Higher Tier, which provides grants to help farmers protect, restore or enhance the environment, will open in the winter, with agreements starting in January 2025. We have been improving the offer, making it simpler and reducing the burden of seeking advice and endorsement.

"We are developing even more actions and features to be added to the expanded SFI offer later this year, including an educational access action announced in January’s Agricultural Transition Plan update. These new actions will ensure farmers have greater choice and flexibility to produce food within SFI in a way that works best for them."

The announcement comes alongside the commitment made at the Oxford Farming Conference in January to increase payment rates by an average of 10% for SFI and CS agreements and introduce premium payments for actions that achieve the greatest environmental benefits. The doubling of management payments announced by the Prime Minister at the NFU Conference will be paid for the first time this Summer. It will be split across quarterly payments in the first year, putting an additional £1,000 in the farmers’ bank accounts.


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