Defra has recently updated their guidance on the Environmental Land Management Schemes known as ELMs. In this document we have provided a brief summary of the updated information released by Defra.
The ELM schemes will continue to pay farmers to provide environmental good and services alongside food production. There is an increased focus on increasing biodiversity, improving water quality, flood resilience, woodland creation, and carbon capture.
Funding for farmers and land managers will be available under three schemes within the ELMs:
Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will pay farmers to adopt and maintain sustainable farming practices.
Countryside Stewardship will pay for more targeted actions relating to specific locations, features and habitats.
Landscape Recovery will pay for bespoke, longer-term, larger scale projects to enhance the natural environment.
Below is a summary of the update for each specific scheme released last week:
New Sustainable Farming Incentives announced.
The update last week incudes new Sustainable Farming Incentives (SFI) Standards which will be available from late 2023. SFI offers funding to farmers to carry out farming activities in a more environmentally sustainable way so that they can produce environmental goods and services alongside food.
The Sustainable Farming Incentive Scheme opened in 2022 with originally three standards:
- Arable Soils
- Improved Grassland Soils
- Moorland Standard
The six new standards include:
- Hedgerows Standard
- Arable & Horticulture Standard
- Improved Grassland Standard
- Low Input Grassland Standard
- Nutrient Management Standard
- Integrated Pest Management Standard
Sustainable Farming Incentive Management Payment
In 2023, Defra will introduce an additional ‘SFI management payment’ to recognise the management costs and time involved for farmers in participating in SFI.
The rates pf funding will be £20 per hectare (ha) management payment per year, for up to the first 50 hectares entered into SFI actions. This will represent a maximum payment of up to £1,000 per year. Defra will keep this payment under review over the next two years, along with all other elements of scheme design and deliver.
Countryside Stewardship (CS) Schemes:
From January 2023, payment rates for revenue and capital options in CS have been updated.
Defra have introduced a number of changes to help improve the application process and broaden the scope of the scheme.
- expanding the capital offer to include specific items to help farmers and land managers prepare for habitat creation and restoration (such as feasibility studies, implementation plans or specific capital works) including existing HLS and CS agreement holders.
- Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) offer will be expended so eligibility now covering all catchments
- Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement holders will be able to take up Countryside Stewardship agreements alongside their HLS – this will benefit farmers who already have an HLS agreement but want to increase their income from schemes by doing more on more of their land.
- Those farmers currently in a CS agreement can already apply for another CS agreement if they want to extend their activities and support delivery of Environment Act outcomes.
- Defra will bring some Higher Tier options into Mid Tier to support wider take-up of biodiversity-friendly options, and increasing options available in the Wildlife Offers and Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Packages to support 2030 and other biodiversity targets’ delivery
- Farmers and land managers will have three years to complete capital works activity and submit claims – this will be automatic for any new applications received after 1 January 2023.
- Defra will also introduce an annual declaration in place of the current burdensome revenue claim process (for all CS agreements)
The Higher Tier and Mid Tier and Wildlife Offer windows will open again in February and March respectively for applications.
Landscape Recovery is designed to fund a smaller number of longer-term, larger-scale, bespoke projects to enhance the natural environment and deliver significant benefits. Defra will award agreements through competitive application rounds focused on the outcomes that are best delivered through these types of projects.
Defra will open applications for further rounds of Landscape Recovery in spring this year and in 2024.
Round two will focus on net zero, protected sites and habitat creation. This could include landscape scale projects creating and enhancing woodland, peatland, nature reserves and protected sites such as ancient woodlands, wetlands and salt marshes.
The roll out from Defra will continue for 2023 and 2024.
Please click the link here to access the full policy paper from DEFRA.
For further information or to discuss the new schemes and how they will be applicable to your individual circumstances, please contact one of our agricultural team on 01502 712122.