AHDB report says SFI will not offset direct payment losses

NFU Vice President David Exwood

The SFI's (Sustainable Farming Incentive) plan to reward actions that help the environment is due to be rolled out this summer. A new report from AHDB says farmers need to look at SFI within a wider review of their business in order to mitigate any loss of direct payments.

The analysis from AHDB has concluded that the current offering under the SFI (Sustainable Farming Incentive) will fall short. Its findings support the NFU’s concerns that SFI does not offer sufficient incentive for farmers to join and may not be accessible for all.

Read New research digs deep into economics of SFI for more information.

‘Small financial benefit’

The analysis, conducted before current prices rises and therefore reflecting a specific point in time, shows that most SFI standards will only provide a small financial benefit to farmers, when the costs of implementing the requirements under the scheme are accounted for.

It concludes that for farmers who are already carrying out activities that are required under the SFI, it is beneficial to join because of the extra income.

“It’s absolutely essential that the government treats food security as a national priority and that its domestic agricultural policy allows farm businesses to excel in producing food for the nation and caring for the environment.”
NFU Vice President David Exwood

On the other end of the spectrum, it says that for farmers who are not already carrying out these activities, it is worthwhile to calculate whether taking part in an SFI scheme will be worthwhile for their farm.

Fit for purpose

The NFU has consistently raised its concerns with Defra about the accessibility of the scheme. Currently, the NFU believes the current SFI standards do not offer viable options for all farmers and Defra needs to ensure there are options.

AHDB’s findings reiterated this. It’s senior analyst Amandeep Kaur Purewal explained, “Government needs to ensure that all these schemes are attractive and appropriate for farmers across the board. Only then can the industry’s challenging environmental targets be reached.”

Not accessible for all farmers

NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “This impact assessment from AHDB reinforces the NFU’s concerns that the current offering under the Sustainable Farming Incentive will not be accessible for all farmers and that the payment rates do not offer sufficient incentive to secure high levels of engagement.

“While there has been improvement to the standards, building on the pilot learning, there are still not viable options for all farmers.

“It’s absolutely essential that the government treats food security as a national priority and that its domestic agricultural policy allows farm businesses to excel in producing food for the nation and caring for the environment.”

We know that members are keen for more insight and information around the implications for their farm businesses. Our farming business teams are working hard to sift through the detail. Keep up to date on our Agricultural Transition Plan pages and our member Bulletin for more information.   

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