NFU21: Defra Secretary of State George Eustice announces Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot

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Acknowledging the hard work of the NFU in a year that saw Covid-19 panic-buying, extreme weather events and the end of the EU transition period, Defra Secretary of State George Eustice announced the launch of the government’s Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot at NFU Live 2021.

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“I am pleased to announce that this year we will be working with hundreds of farmers across the country to pilot the Sustainable Farming Incentive, and that we will be inviting expressions of interest in the coming weeks.

“The Sustainable Farming Incentive will support approaches to farm husbandry that help the environment. That might include promoting integrated pest management, and actions to improve soil health or water quality.”

The announcement came as Mr Eustice set out a three-stage centrepiece of future policy: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery.

Emphatic that Brexit will be the dawn of a more positive era for UK farming, Mr Eustice promised much less administrative burden for farmers going forward, saying: “The ethos at the heart of our future policy is to support the choices of individual farm enterprises. The era of top-down EU rules is over. Some assets that were previously dubbed ‘ineligible features’ under the CAP, will start to have their value recognised.”

Mr Eustice confirmed that details on how to register interest in taking part in the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot would be published in March, with the aim to expand the scheme in future years. He also assured farmers that they will have any details they need by the end of June to allow time for adequate preparation for scheme implementation.

Concluding, Mr Eustice said: “We want farmers to be able to access the money and the advice they need to help them contribute to our net zero target, protect and restore the environment, and improve animal health and welfare on the land they manage – as well as helping their businesses become more productive and sustainable.

“We want to support confidence in UK food internationally, prevent environmental harm, and protect biosecurity and animal health and welfare. And we want to support the choices that farmers and land managers take on their holdings, so we will work with you all to refine and develop the schemes we bring forward.”

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