NFU update on ELMs and agri-environment schemes

01 July 2022

Environment Farm business Agricultural Transition Plan
An image of buffer strips at the edge of a field

Our expert advisers have put together a comprehensive update on ELM schemes (SFI, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery) and Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship agreements.

The SFI (Sustainable Farming Incentive) scheme is now open to applications. You can read more about SFI on our detailed guidance page: SFI – scheme now open to applications

The SFI scheme has evolved since the initial outline was published in December 2021. For example, payment rates were increased for the moorland standard and the requirement for herbal leys to contain wildflowers has been dropped. There was some testing of the delivery systems with NFU members prior to applications opening to all.

Work continues to develop further standards for SFI. This work is linked to options development for the LNR (Local Nature Recovery) scheme. Tight timelines infer that the new standards are unlikely to be tested through the SFI pilot. There remain significant gaps in our knowledge about how LNR will shape up. The initial pilot for LR (Landscape Recovery) is due to announce the successful bids.

Government budget for ELMs

Defra’s budget assumptions for ELMs have not changed. By 2028, the ambition is to split the budget three ways across the three schemes. Defra has said it will flex budget as required during transition. In the next three years, £50m will be spent on LR. It is only a pilot and the next couple of years are focused on project development.

Existing agri-environment schemes

Defra is preparing to move some CS (Countryside Stewardship) and all ES (Environmental Stewardship)/HLS (Higher Level Stewardship) agri-environment agreements onto national legislation. This has some potential benefits for agreement holders, for example longer HLS. It will also enable smoother transition to ELM schemes. It is disappointing that CS (Countryside Stewardship) agreement offers continue to be made after the agreements started in January 2022.

More detail - download our briefing

We have provided a comprehensive update of the current situation relating to both the SFI pilot and the early roll out, as well as LNR, LR and the existing agri-environment schemes in our briefing document for members.

Download the PDF document at the bottom of this page to read about:

  • SFI pilot – the first pilot agreements are approaching the end of the first year. At this point, agreement holders will have the ability to amend their agreement.
  • SFI early roll out – read about the improvements that have been made to the scheme based on feedback and Defra's ambitions for uptake of the scheme in its first year.
  • Local Nature Recovery – see how Defra is currently engaging with farmers and other stakeholders and the workstreams that are developing the standards that will be available in 2023/24 and how the scheme will be structured. 
  • Landscape Recovery – Defra received 51 applications for the pilot, including applications from groups of farmers. Find out about the next steps for those with successful bids.
  • Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship – get our update on CS 2022 agreement offers, revenue claims for CS/ES 2021 and CS 2022, HLS agreement extensions and applications for CS 2023. We also provide an update on how the RPA is finalising how it will bring some CS and all ES/HLS agreements in line with domestic regulations from January 2023.

File downloads

agri-environment ELMs SFI

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