England’s farmers will soon have access to a new set of paid actions to support food production and environmentally responsible farming.
The Government has set out new plans for England’s farming sector, supporting farmers to be profitable and resilient as they produce food sustainably while protecting nature and enhancing the environment.
The accelerated roll-out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive will provide farmers with a range of paid actions to manage hedgerows for wildlife, plant nectar-rich wildflowers and manage crop pests without the use of insecticides. These incentives are designed to make food production more efficient over the longer term, whilst contributing to the UK’s environmental goals on carbon, biodiversity, water quality and net zero.
Six additional standards will be added to the Sustainable Farming Incentive this year, meaning farmers can receive payment for actions on hedgerows, grassland, arable and horticultural land, pest management and nutrient management.
The Government has also detailed what farmers will be paid to deliver through an enhanced version of the Countryside Stewardship scheme, which will see around 30 additional actions available to farmers by the end of 2024. The next round of Countryside Stewardship Higher-Tier will open in February, with Mid-Tier following in March.
The new Countryside Stewardship Plus offer will reward farmers for taking coordinated action, working with neighbouring farms to support climate and nature aims. It will deliver the same environmental ambition previously planned for Local Nature Recovery, including managing floodplain meadows, restoring and maintaining peatland for carbon capture and storage, and enhancing and managing woodland to mitigate against drought and enhance its resilience to climate change.
The scheme will also be improved so farmers benefit from greater flexibility over when they can apply and how they manage their agreements, with improved access for tenant farmers and increased access to Higher Tier options and agreements.
Elsewhere, Defra has confirmed it will open the second round of the Landscape Recovery scheme in the spring to support large-scale nature recovery projects, focusing on net zero, protected sites and habitat creation. This could include projects creating and enhancing woodlands, peatland, nature reserves and protected sites such as ancient woodlands, wetlands and salt marshes.
Upland farmers can be paid for actions on moorland, grassland and upland peat with over 100 actions in all schemes applicable to them. From this year, farmers in existing Higher Level Stewardship agreements will be able to expand their activities and increase their payments by having a Countryside Stewardship agreement.
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:
'Farmers are at the heart of our economy - producing the food on our tables as well as being the custodians of the land it comes from. These two roles go hand-in-hand, and we are speeding up the roll out of our farming schemes so that everyone can be financially supported as they protect the planet while producing food more sustainably.'
How To Apply
Applications opened on 30 June 2022. Applications will remain open, so interested parties can apply at a time that works best for them. If it is necessary to close applications, this date will be publicised, including on GOV.UK, giving applicants six weeks’ notice.
More details are available at the Defra website