New measures for SFI

New measures for SFI

George Catchpole

George Catchpole

Mar, 25 2024

Today, Defra has announced a set of new measures ensuring that the correct balance is struck between delivering environmental benefit and food security.

This has come in the form of some Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) targeted reforms, which are set out below.

Under the changes, SFI applicants will only be able to put 25% of their land into six SFI actions that take land out of direct food production. The actions are:

  • Flower-rich grass margins
  • Pollen and nectar flower mix
  • Winter bird food on arable and horticultural land
  • Grassy field corners and blocks
  • Improved grassland field corners or blocks out of management
  • Winter bird food on improved grassland.

These six actions will continue to play an important role in supporting sustainable food production, but were always intended to be implemented on smaller areas of a farm – something the new measures will protect.

Our understanding is that these changes will come into play from midnight tonight. From this point, applicants will be under the jurisdiction of the new restrictions for the aforementioned actions.

This will undoubtedly leave some businesses needing to re-think their approach to the SFI and production moving forward, having perhaps previously budgeted to commit large areas to these high value environmental actions.

Whilst this announcement adds to a long list of policy changes surrounding the SFI, as a business, Ceres Rural empathises with Defra’s announcement to limit the areas entered into the above actions. The decision is closely aligned with our rounded and integrated approach to agricultural consultancy; delivering financial and environmental resilience to food producers and the wider supply chain.

It is pleasing the Defra has not restricted the areas applied for options such SAM2, SAM3 and NUM3, recognising their valuable contribution to sustainable crop rotations and wider production.

We understand that the department intends to announce further measures to protect food security and meet the 60% self-sufficiency target. We welcome these announcements and hope they are deli

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