SFI – scheme now open to applications

30 June 2022

Farm business Agricultural Transition Plan
An image of cattle grazing in a field on a farm in Wales

Our experts have analysed Defra's guidance for the SFI (Sustainable Farming Incentive). Agreements will provide an opportunity to receive payments to improve soil health. Get the details.

The SFI (Sustainable Farming Incentive) scheme has now opened for applications. Defra is taking a controlled approach to roll out. Those claiming BPS can apply online now. If you have a Countryside Stewardship or Environmental Stewardship agreement, or common land, please contact the RPA for support to apply.

Defra has published detailed guidance on how the SFI scheme will work. You can read the guidance in full at the Defra website: Gov.uk | Sustainable Farming Incentive guidance

Since guidance on the scheme was published, our agri-environment scheme experts have been looking at the detail. On this page you can read information about the scheme, and we've answered some of the key questions you may have.

“I would encourage all farmers to review the options that are available to them under the SFI. There will be practical options available for many farms but it is for every farm business to decide what works for them.”
NFU Vice President David Exwood

Consider your options

We're encouraging farmers to review what is available for their farm business. We've also reiterated our commitment to work with Defra to improve the scheme to make it inclusive and viable for all farmers.

NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “Today is an important day for farmers in England as the first scheme of Defra’s new ELM (Environmental Land Management) programme is launched.

“Britain’s farmers are proud to produce high-quality, climate-friendly food for the nation, as well as delivering for the environment and I would encourage all farmers to review the options that are available to them under the SFI. There will be practical options available for many farms but it is for every farm business to decide what works for them. That factor alone will ultimately determine the success of the SFI.

“The NFU has been consistent in its view that there is much more to do to ensure this scheme is open to every farm business, for example tenant farmers, with viable options for all that couple sustainable food production with viable environmental measures. Our aim has always been for these new schemes to fairly reward farmers for those public goods and to continue and enhance this work.

“This is an important rollout. The NFU remains committed to working with Defra to improve its ELM schemes. In particular, the NFU is arguing that Defra needs to offer farmers a net zero standard, which starts with soil and includes a consistent approach to measuring progress on farms, and that schemes need to assure the viability of farming in our precious uplands.”

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