Still time to sign up for sustainable farming pilot scheme

There is still time – just – for pork producers to submit expressions of interest for Defra’s Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) pilot scheme.

Defra is looking for more pig producers to access Government funding through the scheme, which is one of three Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes to be rolled out under the new agricultural policy for England.

It will reward farmers and land managers for sustainable farming practices – for example, farmers might be paid to manage and plant hedgerows to provide year-round food, shelter and breeding cover for birds and insects, or take actions to boost the levels of organic matter in soils.

To find out more, click here. The deadline for expressions of interest is April 11.

It only takes a couple of minutes to express an interest online, although applicants must already be a recipients of the Basic Payment Scheme.

Successful applicants for the pilots will enter into a pilot agreement from October 2021. The full scheme will be launched in 2022, with full roll out in 2024.

There will be eight standards farmers can choose to join in this first pilot, including some specifically for the arable and horticultural sectors, alongside standards for grassland, soil, hedgerows, woodland and waterbody buffers. Within each standard there are three levels for participants to choose from – Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced.

Payment rates will be set at broadly equivalent levels to Countryside Stewardship payments, but will be updated for the full launch of the scheme from 2022, following consultation with farming groups, Defra said.

NPA senior policy adviser Charlie Dewhirst said the NPA would be working with Defra to try iron out various barriers to pig producers being able to access this, pointing out that outdoor producers can deliver significant environmental benefits.

  • You can read more about the SFI and other avenues of funding for pig producers under the new domestic agricultural policy in Pig World.   

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.