The Evolving Landscape of Agricultural Payments and Incentives

After what seems to have been the longest, wettest Spring in recent years, hopefully the weather has turned a corner and things are starting to slowly dry up and we can look forward to some warmer, drier days as we head towards summer. Alongside the cold, wet Spring here at PFK Rural, for the first year since 2005, Spring has not been filled with appointments with clients and discussions solely centering around the Basic Payment Scheme. As I sit here writing this, it does seem strange not to have spent some of March, all of April and the first half of May filling in BPS claim forms and juggling last minute appointments to ensure all applications are submitted before the deadline.

Although BPS applications are now not required, if you have a Stewardship Scheme of any form, be it an Entry Level / Higher Level Stewardship Agreement on the farm or a newer Countryside Stewardship Scheme running, then these do still need the annual application form completing and returning to the RPA prior to 15th May 2024.

Turning back to BPS, the RPA have confirmed that the 2024 payment will be made, as with the last couple years, in two instalments with the first payment to be made on or after 1st August 2024, with the remaining balance of payments to be made on or after 1st December 2024.Given that there are no application forms to process this year, and that the RPA have done their calculations with regard to the base de-linked payment upon which all future payments will be made, one can only hope that payments should be made in a timely fashion at the beginning of each payment window which should hopefully help cash flow.

Currently, we are awaiting the next announcement with regard to the new options under the Sustainable Farming Incentive and the streamlining of this alongside Countryside Stewardship.

DEFRA announced outline information with regard to the options which will be available earlier in the year and we are awaiting the full details of these, which we hope will be announced in the not too distant future. Once we have the full details we encourage everyone to take the time to look at them, as SFI agreements can be run alongside existing Stewardship agreements. Therefore, in order to maximise farm income with BPS payments falling away, all income streams should be explored and SFI provides an opportunity for additional guaranteed income, whilst being somewhat more flexible than the previous Stewardship Schemes. It does allow options to be added as the Scheme progresses and therefore, also allows for experimentation in so far as an option can be tested for the first year of the Scheme. If this is successful then the area entered into this option can be increased in future years of the scheme. Over the last few months, we have seen a significant increase in interest in the existing SFI and are looking forward to full details being released by DEFRA in order that we can work with clients to maximise income when the new options become available over the summer.

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Blakehills Farm, Mungrisdale, Penrith, Cumbria
James Martin Passes APC


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Wednesday, 19 June 2024
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