There has been much talk recently about the government’s Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).
Billed as a ‘stepping stone’ scheme for English farmers, bridging the 2022-2024 gap ahead of the introduction of the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS), it hit the headlines in September.
DEFRA Secretary of State George Eustice has, however, been making reference to an SFI for some time.
Even as far back as February, he told the NFU conference he envisaged a three-tier ELM scheme, the first part of which would be a “sustainable farming incentive”. It would, he said, be open to all and encourage farm-level measures such as integrated pest management, sensitive hedgerow management and soil health.
Following this, he suggested, would be a local environment tier which would incentivise work such as habitat creation, tree planting and natural flood management. Finally, there would be a landscape-scale tier supporting endeavours such as woodland creation, peatland restoration and other land use changes.
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