From 1 September, if you have land in a Countryside Stewardship (CS) or an Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreement, you can now apply to join the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) online via the Rural Payments Service.
Since the end of June many farmers have used the new online service to start their Sustainable Farming Inventive (SFI) applications, and the CLA has been encouraging members to do so. All SFI applications are aimed to be processed within 2 months, though the RPA has been processing applications within 2 weeks since the launch.
SFI agreements on common land are more complex, because it generally involves multiple parties and rights. Defra is working with commons farmers, land managers and other experts to refine and test the automated service so that they can also access it directly. Those who wish to apply on common land, or who have common land as part of their farm business on the Rural Payments service, need to contact the RPA who will support them to apply when the system is ready.
Whilst we recognise it is a time of uncertainty for farmers, we encourage everyone to look at the new schemes with an open mind
Noting the next stage rollout of the applications, CLA President, Mark Tufnell, said: “The next stage of the SFI application process opening, announced on 1 September, is an encouraging step in the transition towards the Environmental Land Management Schemes. Whilst we recognise it is a time of uncertainty for farmers, we encourage everyone to look at the new schemes with an open mind.”
Mark added: “Application processing has now been sped-up since the initial launch of the SFI scheme, and farmers with Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship agreements that are not on common land, are now encouraged to enter their applications online.
Encouraging CLA members to participate, Mark concluded by saying: “As farmers we do not have to choose between our role in feeding the nation, and our role as stewards of the natural environment. We can do both. As a result, it is important that these schemes work, and I encourage our members to contact the CLA, or the RPA, should they need support in understanding the SFI 2022 soil standards and the application process.”
How to apply video