The government introduced the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) as a partial replacement of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). It encourages farms to take steps to improve environmental sustainability, with an emphasis on supporting food production and improving productivity whilst working towards improving the environment.
The SFI scheme offers incentives to improve grasslands, buffer strips, wildlife diversification, soil, and nutrient management, as well as to carry out integrated pest management, moorland assessments, and hedgerow maintenance.
Unfortunately, it has been announced that there will be delays with SFI and the application window will only be partially open for some from the middle of September and payments delayed until 2024. The NFU has called for the government to assist farmers financially to bridge the gap between the end of BPS and the start of the SFI scheme, and there now seems to be hope that an accelerated payment scheme will be introduced.
There are funds available now to assist farmers under the Farming Investment Fund and Farming Transformation Fund and these include:
The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund - Productivity and Slurry. A successful applicant needs to claim the funds by the 7th November 2023 and accept the terms of a Grant Funding Agreement.
Calf Housing for health and welfare grant which included grants from £15,000 to £500,000 and focuses in improving the health and welfare of claves up to 6 months is open until the 30th November 2023.
The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund - Animal Health and Welfare. An application needs to be made to claim the funds by the 5th December 2023 and successful applicants will need to accept the terms of a Grant Funding Agreement.
The government have announced that they are going to relax some of the rules contained in the Energy Bill which govern the onerous planning rules relating to onshore wind turbine development. The aim is to make the application process for onshore wind turbines more streamlined and allow for decisions to be made in a timelier manner. If approved, the relaxation of the rules will come into force by the end of April 2024.
New schemes under SFI have also been announced with the potential of grants being made available for rooftop solar panel installation and to help upgrade small abattoirs.