On 21st May, Defra announced the ‘extended’ offer for Sustainable Farming Incentive in 2024.  Farmers can apply now to be part of a controlled roll out by submitting this expression of interest and the scheme will be fully rolled out for applications in late July. A summary is below:

  • SFI 2024 will have 102 options including 23 new options covering moorland, precision farming, agro-forestry and stone wall maintenance. It also incorporates 57 options that were in Countryside Stewardship.  All but 8 of these CS options are now 3 year agreements rather than 5 years.
  • Ten options have their total combined area restricted to 25% of the farm area. These include improved grassland and arable options where blocks of land or buffer strips are taken out of production, eg for wild bird food or pollinators.  A further four options are under review and may also be capped in future.
  • There are 21 priority actions including for lowland peat, moorland grazing, and agroforestry.
  • Those that have previously not claimed BPS, can now apply for SFI 2024 allowing new entrants to access the scheme. This is very welcome as we have farmers that have started tenancies since last May that don’t have any BPS entitlements and have not so far been able to apply for SFI.

In addition to the payments for each option, a SFI management payment is paid for each year of the agreement.  For agreements starting by March 2025, this payment will be £40/ha for the first 50ha entered into agreement in Year 1.  This will then reduce to £20/ha for the 2nd and 3rd years of the agreement.  There is only one payment per SBI and the first SFI agreement will be used to calculate the payment even if the business starts a new SFI agreement within the 3 years.