Payment Increases Announced For Environmental Land Management Schemes
Farming Minister Mark Spencer announced at the Oxford Farming Conference that farmers and landowners will receive more money through the Countryside Stewardship (CS) and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) schemes. This provides more support to the industry at a time where costs are rising for farmers due to global challenges.
The new schemes are designed to allocate money based on actions taken to enhance nature and drive innovation in agriculture rather than the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy format where farmers received payments based on the amount of land they held.
Last week’s announcement means that farmers could receive up to a further £1,000 per year for taking nature-friendly action through the SFI and those with a Countryside Stewardship agreement will see an average increase to their revenue payment rates of 10%. In addition to this, Defra is also increasing capital payment rates covering “one-off” projects such as hedgerow creation.
The new SFI Management Payment rate of £20/ha is to be paid on the first 50 hectares of a farm in an SFI agreement, the idea being to attract smaller farming businesses. For example, for a 50-hectare farm this would represent a potential increase of as much as 50%. The new rates are designed to increase uptake in the schemes in order to protect nature, whilst still supporting sustainable food production. An expanded range of actions and standards for 2023 is also confirmed to be published soon.
The changes to these schemes together mean a greater number of farmers taking positive actions on a larger scale to improve biodiversity alongside sustainable food production helping to meet the UK’s environment targets as set out at COP15 in December 2022.