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Government publishes ‘expanded and improved’ Sustainable Farming Incentive offer for farmers

| Duncan & Toplis | 21 May 2024

The government has today (21 May) published an ‘expanded and improved’ Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) offer, which will be available to farmers from July.

Designed in collaboration with the agricultural sector, the offer will be open to new entrants for the first time and will initially comprise 102 actions, including over 20 new options to support more sustainable food production.

A new and expanded offer has been announced for upland farmers and there are more actions for tenants on short-term contracts as well as payments for precision farming and agroforestry.

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

Also from July, more than 50 simplified actions from Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier will be merged into SFI to streamline the application process for farmers. These include a number of actions where durations have been reduced from five to three years to align with the needs of tenant farmers.

The government has also launched a new digital tool known as ‘Find funding for land or farms’ to signpost farmers toward the funding that is available to them.

Meanwhile, the government has also confirmed that the application window for Countryside Stewardship 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.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) have now (31 May) invited a mix of farmers into a controlled rollout to test the service and gather feedback, ahead of the expanded SFI offer being fully self-service in July. Farmers interested in taking part can complete an expression of interest on the RPA website. Applications will open to the wider sector, based on eligibility, on 22 July.

Mark Chatterton, Head of Agriculture at Duncan & Toplis said:

“It shows this government is listening. They want to work with farmers and target subsidies where farmers are doing beneficial things both in food production and environmentally. The exodus of sheep and cattle from the uplands has been alarming over the last three years. Let's hope the extra support reverses this trend.”

You can read the government's guidance for applicants and agreement holders here.

You can read the government’s press release on its announcement on the gov.uk website.

For more information, please get in touch with Mark or our agriculture team.

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