Last week, the Sustainable Farming Incentive opened for applications in England. The scheme is available to all farmers who currently receive Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments. It is 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 that we are outside the EU. The schemes will ensure long-term food security by investing in the foundations of food production: healthy soil, water, and biodiverse ecosystems. The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has worked with more than 4,000 farmers to test and trial the new approach.
Defra opened the scheme in a controlled rollout from 30 June to manage the opening in a careful, measured way. 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. This is to ensure everyone receives the right level of service and support during this initial phase of the rollout.
The scheme will open with two soil standards, recognising the importance of healthy soil for successful farming and the environment. There is also a Moorland standard where they will pay farmers to assess the condition of the Moorland as a basis for further action in the future through the 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.
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