Environmental Land Management (ELM) Scheme 2022: Sustainable Farming Incentive
England is now in the second year of the phasing out of the current Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) and the transition to the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes, these new schemes are based on the principal of 'public money for public goods', paying farmers and landowners public money for carrying out farming and land management actions that are deemed to provide public goods.The new ELM schemes include, Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), Local Nature Recovery scheme and Landscape Recovery scheme. These schemes aim to support the rural community, whilst achieving the goals of the Governments 25 year environmental plan.
The SFI is the first of the 3 new ELM schemes, with the pilots having started in 2021and the full launching this year, with applications for this year opening in June 2022. SFI offers payments towards farming actions that deliver both environmental and climate benefits, based on 3 standards each covering a particular area and offering different levels of entry, these are: arable and horticultural soils (introductory and intermediate levels), improved grassland soils (introductory and intermediate levels), moorland and rough grazing (introductory level only).
For each of the levels there will be different requirement and payment rates, based on a payment per hectare (ha). For example, under the improved grassland soils standard, at the introductory level there are 5 actions that must be carried out with a payment rate of £31/ha, whereas under the intermediate level there are an additional 3 actions that must be carried out with an increased payment rate of £53/ha.
To apply for the SFI this year you will need to meet the following criteria, the land must be wholly located in England, already be registered with the Rural Payment Agency (RPA), the applicant must be eligible to receive BPS payment, and you must be in management control for the 3 year duration of the SFI agreement. As the ELM scheme progresses the RPA have said that the BPS eligibility requirement will be removed, but they do not expect this to happen until 2024.
For those in existing agri-environment schemes you will still be able to apply for the SFI, provided that the actions on the land you are applying for are compatible and you are not being paid twice for the same action. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published guidance on the compatibility of the ELM Sustainable Farming Incentive with the current Countryside Stewardship agreements. If you apply for SFI DEFRA will automatically remove any Countryside Stewardship agreement areas that are not eligible.