Expanded SFI Offer for 2024

Expanded Offer

Defra has released details of the expanded SFI 2024 offer.  In total there will be 102 actions available.  This will include the 23 existing actions (available now under SFI 2023), over 20 brand new actions and more than 50 actions which were previously available under Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier (CS MT).  With reference to the latter, a number of these actions have been simplified and reduced from 5 to 3 years, so that over 90 of the actions are for 3 years.  This has the aim of making the scheme more accessible to tenant farmers.  Our article of 8th January gave details of some of the new actions, which include support for precision farming, agroforestry, boundaries and an improved offer for upland farmers (see https://abcbooks.co.uk/elm-2024/).

All the actions will be merged into one scheme – called the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and they will be available via one application.  Defra has said ‘bringing the schemes into one place, with one name, means farmers can access the best of both offers, the flexibility of the SFI with the breadth, scale and ambition of CS MT, just with less paperwork’.  It is our understanding that going forward there will no longer be a CS Mid Tier; this has now been subsumed into the SFI.  We were expecting this to happen over time, but it has occured quicker than we thought.  CS Higher Tier will remain available – see below.  

Controlled Rollout

The expanded SFI will be offered via a ‘controlled rollout’.  Initially, the RPA will invite a mix of farm businesses who have submitted an Expression of Interest (EoI) in the expanded offer.  EoIs have now opened and can be made via https://defragroup.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cSGsCBrA5Kim3H0  Invites from the RPA will start from the end of May.  This is to test the system before full rollout.  Applications will then open to the wider sector ‘based on eligibility’ (it’s not clear what that actually means) from 22nd July 2024.  We do however know, the expanded offer will be available to those who have not previously claimed the BPS for the first time.

The SFI cap, which was put in place in March 2024, will remain with a further four actions from the new expanded offering being added.  This means new SFI applications will only be able to put 25% of the total agricultural area of their farm into a combination of one or more of these 10 actions which include:

The original actions:

  • IGL1 – Take improved grassland field corners or blocks out of management
  • IGL2 – Winter bird food on improved grassland –
  • AHL1 – Pollen and nectar flower mix
  • AHL2 – Winter bird food on arable and horticultural land
  • AHL3 – Grassy field corners and blocks
  • IPM2 – Flower-rich grass margins, blocks, or in-field strips.

New actions similar in nature to the 6 above:

  • WBD3 – in-field grass strips
  • AHW9 – unharvested cereal headland
  • AHW1 – bumblebird mix
  • AHW11 – cultivated areas for arable plants

Full details on the expanded offer can be found via https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sustainable-farming-incentive-scheme-expanded-offer-for-2024

Guidance on all the individual actions can be found on the new digital tool known as ‘find funding for land or farms’ https://www.gov.uk/find-funding-for-land-or-farms.  This is similar to the Countryside Stewardship Grants finder.  Whilst it was very nice to have a SFI ‘Handbook’ with all the actions in when there was only 23, this may not be practical now we have 102 actions.  One has not been published as yet.

Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier

More information will be available later in the summer for those interested in the CS Higher Tier, this will include:

  • eligibility
  • how to apply and request specialist advice
  • details on each Higher Tier action

Higher Tier is being kept separate as these agreements are usually more complicated and require specialist advice from Natural England (NE) or the Forestry Commission (FC).  Later this summer applicants will be able to start working with NE or the FC to draw up their applications, with eligible farmers being able to submit applications online via Rural Payments during the ‘winter’ with the first agreements commencing in early 2023.  After this, applications will be possible all year round with agreements normally starting the month after applications are approved.

SFI 2023

The existing SFI 2023 scheme remains open, but it seems there will be a ‘downtime’.  Defra has said ‘you can apply for the SFI 2023 offer until access to the application servce is restricted, before the expanded SFI offer is launched in summer 2024’.  As all the actions that are in the 2023 offer will be carried forward into the 2024 offer, this will only really affect those that are in the middle of drawing up an agreement, we do however expect to be given warning before this happens, so this is just a ‘head’s-up’.

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Nutrient Management Research Grants

Defra has announced funding for projects which will develop innovative solutions to farm nutrient management.  Through the Farming Innovation Programme, £15m will be available through two competition strands;

  • Farming Futures: Nutrient Management Phase 1 – Feasibility – Funding for projects of between £200,000 to £500,000
  • Farming Futures: Nutrient Management Phase 1 – Industrial Research – funding for projects of between £500,000 to £1,000,000

The Farming Innovation Programme, is a partnership with Innovate UK who are part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – the UK’s innovation agency.  Innovate UK deliver the programme, providing funding to those who want to research or develop an innovative solution to a known problem in agriculture.  Funding is grouped under four different themes; this support is via the Farming Futures Research and Development (R & D) Fund which supports work on ‘longer-term’ innovations.  Both competitions will open on 29th May and close at 11am on 24th July, but further guidance has been made available in advance of opening and can be found via https://farminginnovation.ukri.org/

Further to these strands, Innovate UK will run an additional competition, Farming Futures: Nutrient Management Phase 2 – Industrial Research, in Autumn 2024.  This Phase 2 competition will have higher project costs that can be supported through the Phase 1 competition.

If you found this article useful, there are numerous additional articles published each month on our Professional Update bulletin service. You can access a no obligation 90-day free trial via the link below.

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Farming Focus – April 2024

In the April 2024 edition of Farming Focus see which SFI Actions Defra has placed an area limit on.  Farmers in England do not have to apply for the BPS this year, but do not forget ES and CS revenue claims.  Elsewhere in the UK the usual 15th May deadline remains for BPS/SAF applications.  We remind English farmers that all strands of the equipment and technology grants are now open and that hedgerow protection remains the same under new legislation now cross compliance has gone.  We also give a summary of agricultural rents in England and report on the cabinet reshuffle in Wales.  A reminder that the UK Minimum Wages rise as from 1st April and report that Red Tractor has officially announced the Greener Farms Commitment module has been dropped.

The Spotlight article this month takes a look at Defra’s latest Farm Business Income (FBI) figures by farm type. There have been some big drops for Cereals, General Cropping and Dairy Farms.

Click Here to access our April 2024 edition of Farming Focus.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

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Farming Focus – March 2024

In the March 2024 edition of Farming Focus we take at look at Rishi Sunak’s announcements at the NFU Conference, including a doubling of the SFI Management Payment.  We notify readers that it is now possible to transfer delinked (BPS) payments if necessary.  We also discuss the latest profitability figures for our Friesian Farm model.  In Wales the Woodland Creation grant is now open until November, have a look to see the application windows for other Welsh schemes.  Finally we remind English farmers that the Improving Farm Productivity Grant is open until 21st March; please contact one of our consultants if you require any help in apply for this grant.

The Spotlight article this month takes a look at the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF) which is expected to open shortly.  The guidance is already available and we provide links to the equipment (including new items) which are available under three themes in this Round.

Click Here to access our March 2024 edition of Farming Focus.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

https://theandersonscentre.co.uk/publications/abc-professional-update/

Farming Focus – February 2024

In the February 2024 edition of Farming Focus we notify readers that the Improving Farm Productivity grant, including solar is now open in England.  We confirm BNG rules are required from 12th February and also take a look at what is happening regarding Nutrient Neutrality.  Frustrated waiting for RPA to make changes to your land parcels? Read how a new online system is set to speed the process up.  Welsh organic farmers will be pleased to read of support available this year.  Have your say on free-range egg legislation, the Government is consulting on rules surrounding mandatory housing and egg labelling.  We also report that the long awaited Statutory Instrument (SI) on milk contracts will be laid before parliament in February and that there has finally been an agreement over the sugar beet contract for the 2024 crop.  And remaining with sugar beet, Defra has confirmed emergency use of a neonicotinoid seed treatment will be allowed if thresholds of virus yellows are reached.

The Spotlight article this month takes a look at our Meadow Farm model.  Meadow Farm is a mixed family farm, typical of many across the country, but it struggles to make a profit without the help of the BPS.  See how we have retsructured Meadow Farm to make it more sustainable for the future.

Click Here to access our February 2024 edition of Farming Focus.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

https://theandersonscentre.co.uk/publications/abc-professional-update/

Farming Focus – January 2024

In the January 2024 edition of Farming Focus we notify readers that grants for Improving Farm Productivity, including solar are due to open in January in England.  We confirm the sugar beet price contract for 2024 has (finally) been agreed and report on the BPS 2023 rates for English claimants.  Also in England, the cross-compliance rules ended on 31st December 2023 – What does this mean for you?  In Wales the second stage of the Enhanced Nutrient Management approach has been laid before the Senedd, read what this means for Welsh farmers.  Are you reliant on migrant workers?  What could the proposed changes to immigration rules mean for your business?  Finally, read about the Government’s announcements on ‘Protected Landscapes‘ including a name change for ANOBs and another round of the NEIRF now being open.

We have two Spotlight articles this month.  The first one looks at more details on the proposed Sustainble Farming Scheme (SFS) which the Welsh Government is now consulting on and the second Spotlight article focuses on the recent annoucement by Defra on a combined SFI/CS offering from summer 2024.

Click Here to access our January 2024 edition of Farming Focus.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

https://theandersonscentre.co.uk/publications/abc-professional-update/

Farming Focus – December 2023

In the December 2023 edition of Farming Focus we take a look at the latest Farm Business Income figures for England covering 2022/23 and how the first couple of months of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme have gone.  Defra has also announced that the Slurry Infrastructure Grant Online Checker is now open; get in touch if you require advice on applying.  For farmers in Wales we have included advanced notice of the application dates for various grants available for the industry.  We finish this edition with news that the EU has re-approved the authorisation of Glyphosate and what this could mean for UK farmers.

The Spotlight article this month focuses on Delinked BPS Payments and what this means for businesses.

Click Here to access our December 2023 edition of Farming Focus.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

https://theandersonscentre.co.uk/publications/abc-professional-update/

Farming Focus – November 2023

In the November 2023 edition of Farming Focus we update readers on the SFI – there is no requirement to send in an EoI now.  Please contact one of our consultants if you would like help in submitting an application; payments are already being received under SFI 2023.  All SFI 2022 agreement holders have been notified of termination, please get in touch if you want to switch to SFI 2023.  Do you want to collaborate with other farmers to improve the environment, if so, read about a further round of the CS Facilitation Fund just opened.  Is your HLS due to expire in 2024?  You may be offered a further 4-year extension.  We include notice of proposals from the AHDB to increase Levy rates.  We report on Welsh advanced BPS payments and also on the disappointing news that no agricultural trades have been included on the latest Shortage Occupation List.  Read about legislation to ensure imports of seeds and sprays from the EU can continue and the lack of agreement on the beet price for the 2024 crop.  Finally have your say on changes to the Cattle Tracing System (CTS), a consultation is now open.

The Spotlight article this month reports on the Slurry Infrastructure Grant which is opening for Round 2 sometime this month (November).  Guidance is already available and there have been some changes since Round 1.

Click Here to access our November 2023 edition of Farming Focus.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

https://theandersonscentre.co.uk/publications/abc-professional-update/

Farming Focus – October 2023

In the October 2023 edition of Farming Focus we report on ‘accelerated payments‘ for the early SFI adopters and the opening of the new Calf Housing Grant.  If you require assistance with applying to either of these grants please get in touch with one of our consultants (details can be found below).  Ongoing technical problems means some CS Mid Tier applications are still outstanding.  We report on the delay to the introduction of the BNG requirement and on the House of Lords blocking the Government’s plans to scrap Nutrient Neutrality commitments; what does this mean for these markets?  Those blighted by footpaths through their farmyards may find it easier to get them diverted following new guidance.  The latest edition of the renowned John Nix Farm Management Pocketbook has just been published.  We also look into the loss of parallel spray imports and that the new interim environmental scheme in Wales is open for EOIs.

The Spotlight article this month looks at the latest budget and forecasts for The Andersons Centre’s Meadow Farm, a notional mixed farm set it the Midlands.

Click Here to access our October 2023 edition of Farming Focus.

There is also an opportunity to earn £20 by sharing your opinions on Biodiversity as part of a survey being undertaken by England Marketing on behalf of Osnabrück University and the James Hutton Institute.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

https://theandersonscentre.co.uk/publications/abc-professional-update/

Farming Focus – September 2023

In the September 2023 edition of Farming Focus we report on changes to the Nutrient Neutrality rules – what does this mean for farmers? The deadline for applications to Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier is now 15th September.  Those farming in Wales have their first ever Welsh Agriculture Act, read what this means.  We report on further delays to the implementation of post-Brexit border controls and on a further increase to the base rates, read how high forecasters think it will go.  CF Industries is closing its ammonia production facility, what does this mean for AN fertiliser in the UK?  We remind purchasers of AN fertiliser that photo ID is required as of 1st October.  Finally read about support for the Welsh food and drinks industry.

The Spotlight article this month looks at the latest developments with the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) including rule changes, when it will be open for applications and how to submit an expression of interest in SFI 2023.

Click Here to access our September 2023 edition of Farming Focus.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

https://theandersonscentre.co.uk/publications/abc-professional-update/

Farming Focus – August 2023

In the August 2023 edition of Farming Focus we report that most English farmers should have received 50% of their 2023 BPS payment.  Do you have a 2022 SFI Agreement?  If so, read why Defra will be writing to you.  For those wanting to enter SFI 2023, you may have to wait until October to apply.  We report on a new interim agri-environment scheme for Welsh farmers and on recent announcements from the Welsh Government on the Sustainable Farming SchemeCross Compliance ends in England next year, what does this mean for farmers?  Finally, we report on the decline in fertiliser use due to price rises and on the future of Glyphosate.

The Spotlight article this month looks at the new Calf Housing Grant.  Defra has released more details ahead of the scheme opening, which is expected shortly.

Click Here to access our August 2023 edition of Farming Focus.

If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone.  Their contact details can be obtained by clicking here. Alternatively, your can also contact our office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]

If you would like more detail on the topics covered above as well as additional articles on UK farm business matters, why not subscribe to our Professional Update bulletin? Over the course of each month, we give a concise and unbiased commentary on the key issues affecting business performance in the UK agri-food industry, and its implications for farming and food businesses. Please click on the link below for a 90-day free trial:

https://theandersonscentre.co.uk/publications/abc-professional-update/

Impact of UK Trade Deals with Four Non-EU Partners on UK and Scottish Agriculture

The Scottish Government has recently published a Summary Report from a study that The Andersons Centre undertook in 2022 to assess the impact on Scottish agriculture of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between the UK and four selected non-EU partners, namely: Australia; New Zealand (NZ); Canada; and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). 

It quantifies the FTA impacts on selected Scottish agricultural sectors namely: cereals (wheat and barley); livestock (dairy, beef and sheep); and potatoes. This has been done using two FTA scenarios, Low Liberalisation (tariff-free trade with a 25% reduction in non-tariff measure (NTM) costs) and High Liberalisation (tariff-free trade with a 50% NTM costs’ reduction). These scenarios are compared to the Main Baseline whereby the UK has left the EU and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is in place, as are the rollover trade deals that the UK agreed during the Brexit process. Additionally, a top-level comparison was given between the Main Baseline and an Alternative Baseline (No-Brexit) scenario.

The research was undertaken in collaboration with Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and used a combination of MAGNET, a computable general equilibrium economic model to assess the individual and aggregated impacts of each FTA, as well as desk-based research and interviews with industry experts representing organisations in Scotland and the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Gulf region.

Assessments were also undertaken on the impact of tariffs, non-tariff measures (NTMs) and tariff rate quotas (TRQs) on UK trade with each selected partner, as well as the EU. These modelling results were then used in conjunction with additional analyses on potatoes to ascertain the impact of the FTAs on UK and Scottish agri-food output and farm-level performance in Scotland. 

A PDF version of the Summary Report is available via the Scottish Government website.