SFI news welcomed (but it’s not that straightforward !!)
The good news is that Therese Coffey has announced the detailed rules around the new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) that will be the main tool for ‘supporting farmers to be profitable and resilient as they produce food sustainably while protecting nature and enhancing the environment.’ The full release can be read here.
Whilst the clarity around how and what farmers might be able to do in order to stave off the dwindling support from the Basic Payment Scheme is a step forward, the detail is still pretty complex – especially if you are already in a existing Countryside Stewardship agreement. The full set of SFI intentions is here.
There will be overlaps, alterations to options and changes to payment rates that will all need careful consideration. Richard Fearnall, managing director of Rural Surveying firm Wilson Fearnall, encourages farmers who are not already involved in some form of environmental scheme to consider some of these new opportunities. ‘The drop in direct support will need to be filled by all farming businesses. Some will achieve this through diversification, but all should now be looking to take advantage of stewardship or the SFI to plug the gap.’ Fearnall continues, ‘Many farmers and landowners could now take advantage of these options with minimal changes day to day whilst improving their local environment and generating additional revenue’.
Professional advice should be used to support with new or transitional applications to ensure the opportunity presented by the various options is maximised.