FARMING POST-BPS: WHAT'S NEXT?

FARMING POST-BPS: WHAT’S NEXT?

Beth Speakman

Beth Speakman

Dec, 04 2023

Defra has provided some much-needed clarity on the future of Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) and agri-environmental funding, as another round of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) opened for applications. This included several easy wins for farmers, such as funding for Nutrient Management Plans and Integrated Pest Management Plans, with agreements running for three years and paid quarterly in arrears. This is a change from the five-year Countryside Stewardship (CSS) agreements, which are paid annually. 

Whilst the application window for existing CSS management agreements has now closed, CSS Capital Grants continue to offer a wide selection of financial support through options such as Concrete Yard Renewals and grants tailored to livestock farmers, without necessitating involvement in other CSS or SFI management agreements. This is helping farmers get ahead of the changes in legislation. 

As the government continues increasing pressure on farmers to protect ecological systems and improve their emissions liabilities, capital grants can be used to bridge the gap in funding and facilitate changes. The Defra-funded Future Farming Resilience Fund (FFRF) can also be used. This is a scheme which provides farmers and landowners with access to free advice, with the view to future-proofing farm businesses in the new era. The consultancy can cover topics including, but not limited to: 

  1.  Guidance on grant schemes – helping to deliver improved budgeting for the post-BPS world 
  1. Audits of farm emissions – establishing a farm’s current emissions burden ahead of future net-zero targets 
  1. Appraisal of biodiversity net gain (BNG) viability – providing an estimate of a farm’s biodiversity baseline, as well as supply and demand in the farm’s locality. 

The introduction of BNG into legislation (effective January 2024) presents an opportunity, placing farmers and landowners in a unique position to provide land and management services to developers, offering a welcome injection of income. Unit prices range from £20,000-£35,000 per unit of net gain, with approximately seven units per hectare available for reversion of arable fields to tussocky grasses (subject to location and prior condition). 

Overall, the cessation of BPS payments places additional pressure on farmers to diversify, cut costs and refine their practices – yet more areas which can be reviewed via the FFRF. These factors, coupled with the continued geo-political turbulence and market fluctuations, are making the future of British agriculture and the profitability of some farm businesses difficult to predict.

Therefore, Ceres Rural is recommending farmers seek guidance to ensure they take advantage of all existing and incoming agri-grant funding – facilitating risk minimisation, income supplementation and replacement cost offsetting. Ceres Rural is a Defra-approved provider of the FFRF, thus for many farmers, access to such guidance will be free of charge.  

Register your interest online today at here. Alternatively, email futurefarming@ceresrural.co.uk or call 01223 679 679.

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