Farmers to receive government payments for sustainable farming

farming in the UK
© Graham Taylor

The UK government is handing out payments to those who utilise sustainable farming and deliver greener food production while enhancing nature

Under the Government’s Environmental Land Management schemes, Defra has emphasised the need for the expansion of greener farming, supporting farmers ready to make the change with pay increases.

Farmers could receive up to a further £1,000 per year for taking nature-friendly action through the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).

Under this arrangement, there will be more money for farmers and landowners through both the Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive schemes – providing more support to the industry and driving uptake during the cost of living crisis.

Farmers could receive up to a further £1,000 per year

What does sustainable farming entail?

These changes will mean more farmers taking individual positive actions such as creating hedgerows and flower-rich grass areas on the edge of fields and will support farmers and landowners in making space for nature alongside sustainable farming and food production.

Additionally, SFI is already paying farmers to improve soil and moorlands, and an expanded set of standards for 2023 will be published shortly.

This could help the UK meet the legally binding environment targets and contribute to halting biodiversity loss by 2030, agreed at COP15, while supporting the industry to farm more home-grown produce and take advantage of innovation.

This new Management Payment will be made for the first 50 hectares of a farm (£20/ha) in an SFI agreement to cover the administrative costs of participation and to attract smaller businesses.

local market selling produce in London
© Kmiragaya

An average increase of 10% to revenue payment rates

Finally, farmers with a Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreement – of which there are now 30,000 across England – will see an average increase of 10% to their revenue payment rates – covering ongoing activity such as habitat management.

Defra is also updating capital payment rates, which cover one-off projects such as hedgerow creation, with an average increase of 48%.

Meanwhile, capital and annual maintenance payments for the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) and Tree Health Pilot (THP) will also be updated this year, helping to incentivise farmers to incorporate more trees as valuable natural resources on farms.

“Increasing payment rates to ensure farmers are not out of pocket for doing the right thing FOR the environment”

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: “My challenge to our great industry is simple – this year, take another look at the Environmental Land Management schemes and think about what options and grants will help support your farm.

“As custodians of more than 70% of our countryside, the nation is relying on its farmers to protect our landscapes as well as produce the high-quality food we are known for, and we are increasing payment rates to ensure farmers are not out of pocket for doing the right thing by the environment.

“By increasing the investment in these schemes, I want farmers to see this stacks up for business – whatever the size of your holding.”


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