bitcoin hoy precio www.survivalprep.net Defra’s Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme for England is starting to accept applications after its launch was delayed by technical issues.
Farmers in England who are claiming basic payments will be eligible to apply for an SFI 2023 agreement online through the Rural Payments service.
Some farmers and land managers will be able to apply from today (Monday 18 September), while others will have to wait for several weeks while Defra resolves any glitches in its computer system.
The NFU and Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) have called for a pause to reductions in Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments until the SFI is running smoothly.
In view of the cashflow problems engulfing many farms, Defra says farmers who have a live SFI agreement before the end of the year will receive an accelerated payment – worth 25% of the value of their agreement – typically in the first month of their agreement.
There are 23 actions in the 2023 SFI offer, which cover existing themes including soil health and moorland, as well as new actions on hedgerows, integrated pest management, nutrient management, farmland wildlife, buffer strips and low-input grassland.
Defra has published an SFI Handbook (PDF) which sets out the full details of the scheme.
Farming minister Mark Spencer said?Defra and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) were now “in a reasonably good place” in terms of the SFI.
More than 9,000 expressions of interest have so far been made by farmers to join the scheme.
Hundreds of early adopter farmers were invited to apply ahead of today’s wider rollout, with applications already submitted and the first agreement under the SFI scheme already issued.?
The RPA plans to ramp up the number of SFI agreements in the coming weeks once the IT system is seen to be working correctly, Mr Spencer explained.
But farmers can apply to enter the scheme at any time as it is being run through a rolling application window. Farmers who do not have access to the internet who want to enter the SFI should call the RPA on 03000 200 301.
“We are quite buoyant at this moment in time about the numbers of expressions of interest,” Mr Spencer told a press briefing on Monday.
“I think plenty of people are wanting to engage with with us and look at this new scheme as we have expanded it. A number of organisations including the CLA, NFU and TFA have been talking to their members and encouraging them to engage.
“The spread of farmers is quite encouraging as well, from uplands, grasslands and stock farmers, right through to arable farms in the East.”
Mr Spencer batted off suggestions from BBC journalists that many farmers they spoke to at the Westmorland County Show at the weekend were not interested in joining the SFI.
He pointed to a recent Tenant Farmers Association survey which found 77% of tenant farmers were planning to enter SFI, most as soon as it was available.
However, a snap poll carried out by Farmers Weekly on X on Friday 15 September revealed a mixed reaction to engagement with the SFI.
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— Farmers Weekly (@FarmersWeekly) September 15, 2023
The self-selecting poll asked farmers in England if they would be signing up to SFI 2023. It found 44% said yes, 25% said no and 30% said they were undecided. There were 142 votes.
Meanwhile, Defra has published its Farming and Countryside Programme annual report report (PDF) for the 2022/23 financial year. The reports shows a ￡1m underspend for the year.
But Mr Spencer insisted that any of the annual ￡2.4bn pot for agriculture in England would be ring-fenced and spent in future years – and not returned to the Treasury.?
BPS payments welcomed by members, UFU says
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says 98% of farmers in Northern Ireland received Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) support in the first week of September -– and it has provided a huge boost to family farms.
UFU president David Brown said the payments would help farmers manage cashflow after a difficult year beset by many challenges, ranging from extreme weather to volatile farmgate prices.
“It is extremely positive that many of our members received their direct payment in the first few days of September,” said Mr Brown.
?“I would like to thank Daera for its efforts to ensure farmers received this necessary financial support that is crucial to the daily running of family farms.”