Higher payments for farmers in SFI and CS Schemes announced

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Farming Minister Mark Spencer has announced more money for farmers and landowners through both the Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) schemes in order to provide more support to the industry. This is intended to drive farmer uptake in the schemes at a time of rising costs for farmers caused by global challenges. He also confirmed that an expanded range of actions under the schemes, which farmers could be paid for, would be published soon. Further details regarding the announcement are outlined in Defra’s Future Farming blog.

This announcement follows in depth analysis by AHDB, on the Sustainable Farming Incentive. Our analysis showed that:

  • For farmers already carrying out actions on-farm which are required under the SFI, it is beneficial to join the scheme because they will receive extra income
  • For farmers that are not carrying out the actions required but their farm set-up will allow them to so with little additional cost, it is beneficial to join the scheme
  • For farmers where this is less apparent, it is worthwhile to carry out the calculations for their own farms to see it taking part in the scheme will be worthwhile for them

A key message from this piece of work for policy makers was that higher payment rates were needed to incentivise farmers to take part in the schemes and enable them to make a meaningful impact from an environmental perspective.

AHDB’s analysis was well received by policy makers, and this announcement is certainly a step in the right direction. As more details and information is released, AHDB will continue to analyse and assess their impact on farm businesses. It is clear that farmers need information on the impact of the new schemes and AHDB will ensure there is unbiased, evidence-based analysis available to ensure they can make informed business decisions.