Scheme Announcements: Essential information for farmers and landowners
After Secretary of State Steve Barclay's, recent announcement at the Oxford Farming Conference, referred to by DEFRA as 'the biggest upgrades' to the UK farming scheme since leaving the European Union, we revisit some of the key headlines and highlight what farmers and landowners should be aware of in the upcoming 2024 scheme year.
- 50 new actions will be introduced, with others undergoing revision. In total there will be some 180 revenue actions for Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) applicants once implemented. Noteworthy additions include agroforestry and precision farming actions.
- A new combined application portal for SFI and CS Mid-Tier is set to open from summer 2024. This entails a unified application process with rolling application window.
- Funding is being increased, with payment rates increasing on average by 10% for the SFI and CS schemes, and any increase is applicable to both new and existing agreements. While some actions will witness significant increases, others may experience no change or even reductions.
-Existing SFI agreement holders are able to adopt new actions during their annual review.
- The introduction of "maintenance" actions aims to reward farmers and landowners who have already contributed to environmental protection, such as maintaining grassland, wetland and scrub.
The intent of the announcement is to present a "broad, flexible", and more "attractive offer" to farmers and landowners. While it represents a positive stride, given the considerable reductions of at least 50% in Basic Payment Scheme payments for farm business in 2024, the delayed rollout in summer 2024 may pose challenges for some farming enterprises.
Detailed information for the new announcement is anticipated in late spring/early summer, coinciding with the application window opening in summer 2024. This interim period presents an opportune time to initiate discussions.
If you need assistance with the above or have any scheme-related questions, feel free to contact us here at PFK Rural and we would be happy to help.
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