At the NFU Conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a number of announcements and you can read a summary of his speech here.  The announcements included:

  • A doubling of the SFI management payment for the first year of an SFI agreement from £20/ha to £40/ha. This applies on up to 50ha of land entered into the agreement.  The increase will apply to existing as well as new agreements and will be extended to Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier for the first year of agreements starting by March 2025.
  • Details of the next round of the Farming Equipment and Technology grant scheme - There will be three separate FETF grant schemes for farm productivity, slurry and animal health/welfare equipment.  There is a higher maximum grant of £50k for applications to the farm productivity and slurry themes with the animal health and welfare maximum grant remaining at £25k.  The scheme is not yet open but is expected to open this Spring and the guidance notes are available here.
  • More funding for the Farming Transformation Fund with further rounds of the Adding Value and Water Management schemes as well as a new grant for cattle housing.  The Farming Transformation Fund Farm Productivity grant scheme is currently open for robotic equipment and Solar PV (see below) and we are expecting these other schemes to open later this year.
  • A new UK Food Security Index to capture and present the data needed to monitor levels of food security and a commitment to hold an annual Farm to Fork Summit.
  • A £15 million fund to help tackle food waste by enabling farmers to redistribute surplus food that cannot be used commercially at the farm gate.
  • New regulations to ensure fair and transparent contracts for dairy farmers with clearer pricing terms for farmers; changes to contracts can’t be imposed on farmers without their agreement; and providing more straightforward ways for farmers to raise concerns about their contracts. Alongside this, a review is also set to launch to improve fairness in the poultry supply chain.
  • Expanding permitted development rights to help farm diversification.
  • Making up to £500,000 available to deliver projects that support mental health in the farming sector.