Farmers across England can now apply to the Sustainable Farming Incentive, which is the first of three new environmental land management schemes being introduced under the Agricultural Transition Plan.
The scheme is available to all farmers who currently receive Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments, designed to be accessible, and will reward sustainable practices which support food production and benefit the environment.
The schemes will ensure long-term food security by investing in the foundations of food production: healthy soil, water, and biodiverse ecosystems. Defra said it has worked with more than 4,000 farmers to test and trial the new approach.
The scheme will open with two soil standards recognising the importance of healthy soil for successful farming and the environment, and a Moorland standard where Defra will pay farmers to assess the condition of the Moorland as a basis for further action in future through its existing and new schemes.
This is the initial rollout of the scheme – which will be expanded over the next three years as Direct Payments are reduced. The full set of standards will be in place by 2025.
Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis said: “The Sustainable Farming Incentive is designed to be accessible and recognises the importance of domestic food production to our national resilience.
“Farmers will receive payment within three months of their agreements starting, and payment rates are more targeted and less prescriptive than previous EU schemes. We want to support farmers with the choices they take for their farms, and I urge them to apply.”