08 January 2024
News welcomed - but questions remain.
PAYMENTS will be increased on average by 10% across the UK's Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).
Environment Secretary Steve Barclay announced updates for the government's SFI, including the 10% funding uplift and a streamlined application process, during a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference last week. He said the updated offer for 2024 has been designed using farmers’ feedback.
British potato growers will be able to submit their applications for the 2024 offer from this summer. More details are expected to be published in coming months.
Organisations such as the Soil Association have welcomed the cash boost and unveiling of new incentives for nature-friendly farming. Higher payment rates will be applied to existing agreements and more options will be available to apply for, or to add to an existing SFI agreement, from summer 2024.
NFU Vice President David Exwood welcomed the announcement but said questions remained surrounding deliverability of the new options.
“It remains hugely frustrating that nearly six years on from the Health and Harmony consultation, which set farming in England on a path towards public goods for public payments, government is still a long way behind on its commitments,” he said.
Highlighting the 50% reduction in direct payments which will begin to hit farming businesses this year, David called on the government to urgently deliver “business critical detail" on how growers will transition from existing agreements to the new offer.
“It is imperative that SFI has sustainable food production at its core, with enough options that sit around productive farming. For this to happen, it is absolutely vital that there’s a better balance between policies that focus on enhancing food production as well as the environment,” David said.