An update from DEFRA about the Sustainable Farming Incentive is released and the deadline for new Countryside Stewardship mid-tier applications looms
On 21st June 2023, DEFRA published the Handbook for the Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023 (SFI 2023). They have confirmed that they have temporarily closed SFI applications in preparation for opening applications with the updated standards in August. These include the all-important Arable and Grassland Management Standards which are an alternative to Countryside Stewardship, at similar payment rates, but run for 3 years with quarterly payments and fewer management options to choose.
For those wanting to apply for Countryside Stewardship Wildlife Offers and Mid-Tier schemes, the closing date for applications is 18th August 2023 for a start date of 1st January 2024.
C S Mid-Tier is a competitive scheme which lasts for 5 years. It offers a wide range of land management options and Capital Items, with the primary objective of increasing biodiversity, soil health and reduction in pollution. With around 250 options available under CS/WO, there is something suitable for every farm no matter the size, condition or land use.
Any capital items (including options such as rainwater harvesting, concrete yard renewal and roofing over silage clamps/muck stores) can also be applied for as a separate stand-alone application with no cap on costs, as well as within a mid-tier application, with works to be completed within three years of that start of your Agreement, extended from two years.
These Capital items require Catchment Sensitive Farming officer (CSFO) approval which will assess the benefit that any works would provide to the environment. For Mid-Tier applications, contact would have to have been made before 9 June. If your farm is located in a high phosphate or sediment priority area, then this will increase your chances for CSFO approval.
The Wildlife Offers provide a simpler set of Options, with fewer to choose from. However, the primary benefit of the Wildlife Offers is that they are non-competitive, meaning that unlike the Mid-Tier scheme, acceptance onto a Wildlife Offer is guaranteed.
Please get in touch with Catherine Johnston or the Agricultural Consultancy team for further information on Countryside Stewardship, Sustainable Farming incentive and any other environmental or grant schemes you may be interested in.
Lister Haigh Agricultural Consultancy team: Catherine Johnston MRICS FAAV, Sam Harris and James Neilson-Clark.