Sustainable Farming Incentive applications surge to over 10,000

More than 10,000 farmers across England have applied for the improved Sustainable Farming Incentive since it opened in September, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive – which was developed with feedback from farmers – pays farmers for taking actions that support food production, farm productivity and resilience, whilst protecting and enhancing the environment.

As of January, 174,000 hectares of arable land are now being managed without insecticides, 71,000 hectares of low-input grassland are focused on improving sustainability, and almost 15,000km of hedgerows are under management as a result of the scheme.

One in eight eligible farmers have now applied just four months after Sustainable Farming Incentive reopened, adding to the 32,000 Countryside Stewardship agreements which are already in place.

Farming minister Mark Spencer said: “The Sustainable Farming Incentive has something on offer for every type of farm business, so it’s pleasing to see the scheme proving popular with farmers across England.

“For those who have not yet applied, I encourage you to take a look at how the scheme could work for your business so you can join the thousands of other farmers already getting paid.”


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Using farmers’ feedback, the Sustainable Farming Incentive has been expanded and improved with a more straightforward application process, greater flexibility for farmers to choose the actions that work for them, and the ability to benefit from it at the same time as the Countryside Stewardship as long as the actions are compatible.

Today, Defra also announced the winners of the On Farm Environmental Resilience competition, with projects awarded a share of £12.2 million in funding to solve long-term challenges to plants, crops and farmed animals.

At the recent Oxford Farming Conference, the government also revealed the biggest upgrade to the UK’s farming schemes since leaving the European Union, including around 50 new actions that farmers can get paid for across all types of farm businesses.

A 10% increase in the average value of agreements in the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship, was also revealed.

Farmers who apply for an Sustainable Farming Incentive agreement now can choose from the 23 actions already on offer and then add actions to their agreements annually as the new actions come into play this summer.

Circular economyFood and farmingNewsPolicy

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