Sustainable Farming Incentive: how the scheme will work in 2022

Sustainable farming incentive details published today 2 December 2021

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tepapa

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
North Wales
To all the nay sayers on here, this thread was intended to allow transfer of information both ways through question and answer, to enable farmers or land managers to understand what the new schemes are likely to involve. Is it so impossible to do that without being so insulting and pointlessly rude?

It's going to be voluntary. That means if you don't like the look of it, there's no compulsion to join. It's that simple.

I happen to agree that the payments aren't very attractive, and past experience with rpa inspections may discourage some. You can make these points without being rude. It's embarrassing to read. We should be pleased that Defra have bothered to engage and we shouldn't put them off doing it again.
Who'd think it could be so hard handing out money to farmers🙄.
 

andybk

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Mendips Somerset
To all the nay sayers on here, this thread was intended to allow transfer of information both ways through question and answer, to enable farmers or land managers to understand what the new schemes are likely to involve. Is it so impossible to do that without being so insulting and pointlessly rude?

It's going to be voluntary. That means if you don't like the look of it, there's no compulsion to join. It's that simple.

I happen to agree that the payments aren't very attractive, and past experience with rpa inspections may discourage some. You can make these points without being rude. It's embarrassing to read. We should be pleased that Defra have bothered to engage and we shouldn't put them off doing it again.
I think we all appreciate the time taken by janet and her team to engage with us on here , its a very big plus point they are taking the time to listen ,first steps and all that .(edit : it was more than red tractor did !)
Some farmers are just vociferous in real life , add to the fact 40 years of dealing with defra and rpa have made many of us weary (and wary) of dealing with officialdom, and it comes out in conversations on here .
 
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Seems like all these various scenarios are simply aimed at working farmers fighting over scraps when what really needs to happen is a basic discouragement from ever larger landholding using money from outside the industry as tax dodges.
There most certainly needs to be a cap at a level which cannot simply be overridden by splitting of businesses within the next 25 years.
 

delilah

Member
I don't see why they spread the payment out so thinly. At £10/acre its barely worth asking the question if it's worth applying to join

If I may quote myself from another thread.


The issue that @Janet Hughes Defra has now is this:
- They have amended the arable standards (having accepted that there is no public good in subbing one form of crop establishment over others) such that anyone growing an arable crop is now eligible.
- Having done this, they have had to reduce the payment rates per Ha, as otherwise there wont be enough money to go round.
- These rates are now so low that it's not worth the aggravation.
- The only way out of this, the thing that Defra should have understood from the outset and now really do need to acknowledge, is that there should be no area payments on arable land.
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
appologies if asked already but was does "add organic matter to 1/3 of the land in the standard each year" mean in practice? If I have access to 10T of OM I could put 1T/ha on 10ha or 100kg/ha on 100ha Spreading OM excessively thinly is just going to burn unnecessary diesel and cause unnecessary compaction.

Given the ways suggested for adding OM, I can't see how there can be a figure put on it tbh. How much OM is added by copping straw, growing cover crops, grazed catch crops, or growing a herbal ley? They all add OM, but a job to quantify it.
 

farmerm

Member
Location
Shropshire
A weed is just a plant in the wrong place!! Its still green cover
Yes but by who's definition... I am concerned so much of this is still open to widely different interpretations and even if a light tough approach is taken to begin there is much danger the official interpretations will creep over time! We have only recently seen the creep in official interpretation of legislation around autumn manure applications. Two years from now there might be entirely different people at the top of the agencies involved, these may come in with different perspectives and wish to impose different interpretations. It seems to me vital we demand specific and binding clarification on many of these points so we can have long term confidence.

If autumn sown cereals which receive no autumn herbicide meet the "multi species green cover" definition used in this scheme then I will be happy, if they can have a grass weed herbicide but no broad weed control and still qualify, then even more so... However it it means to qualify I have to autumn establish cover crops and spring crop 20% of the farm I will be rather less happy!

I can read into this any interpretation I like, but my interpretation will not mean sh!t in the event that the RPA have other ideas!! I don't want to be the one funding a court case to argue with the RPA that a couple of Groundsel and Pansy seedlings in a late drilled pigeon and slug damaged Autumn cereal crop meets the definition "multi species green cover"

A light touch interpretation vs a heavy touch interpretation is chalk and cheese!!
 

Huno

Member
Arable Farmer
Who'd think it could be so hard handing out money to farmers🙄.
If 5% of 1 billion has been removed from BPS 2021( estimate) and focused on the SFI then it is no surprise when the odd farmer moans on this thread about being offered £22 per Ha as compensation? Forums since Roman times are a medium for a winge.. 2024 is going to be the critical year where the moaning is loudest... what do you think GCHQ??
 

Goweresque

Member
Location
North Wilts
‘Cos a lot of the money gets funnelled to folk who already have more money than they know what to do with anyway - it needs to be aimed at those who work the land - not primarily at those who already own it outright.

As I have repeatedly pointed out the only way that happens is if land is nationalised, and farmers become employees of the State. Then the only thing they can spend their wages on is themselves. If farmers are private individuals in business then any cash that is given to them by the State by any method can (and will) be spent on new machinery (ending up in the manufacturers pocket), paying rent on land (ending up in landowners pockets) or spent on inputs (ending up in suppliers pockets).

There is literally no way you can give money to people in business that stops them going and spending it on business expenses, short of prohibiting them from being in business in the first place. Look at all the different types of subsidy system we have tried over the last 80 years. The only one that worked in making farmers rich was the guaranteed price system, and that just ended up in butter mountains and stores full of intervention grain, so thats not coming back. Everything else has just leached out into higher rents and higher input and machinery prices. Its the nature of the subsidy beast.
 

BrianV

Member
Livestock Farmer
To all the nay sayers on here, this thread was intended to allow transfer of information both ways through question and answer, to enable farmers or land managers to understand what the new schemes are likely to involve. Is it so impossible to do that without being so insulting and pointlessly rude?

It's going to be voluntary. That means if you don't like the look of it, there's no compulsion to join. It's that simple.

I happen to agree that the payments aren't very attractive, and past experience with rpa inspections may discourage some. You can make these points without being rude. It's embarrassing to read. We should be pleased that Defra have bothered to engage and we shouldn't put them off doing it again.
Not sure the hotch potch that's being offered bares any resemblance to what was promised before & after Brexit, I think most of us are old enough to recognise the fact that this is the most dishonest government I can ever remember & nothing that is said by it should be taken at face value!
 

BrianV

Member
Livestock Farmer
I don't see why they spread the payment out so thinly. At £10/acre its barely worth asking the question if it's worth applying to join.

All farms have bits of rough or waste ground. Set up a scheme that pays well for the poor areas that can be planted with covers or trees etc. And pay handsomely, like £1000's of pounds per ha not hundreds. Every farm has odd steep bank or funny shaped corners or water margins that can be properly cared for to benefit the environment. And if the payment is worth while there's more chance of it getting looked after well and meeting objectives. The rest of the productive land then doesn't need a payment, it's up to the farmer to farm it profitably within any legislative rules.
The large land owners don't necessarily get the biggest payments and you could possibly put a cap of 10% of farmed area into the scheme if over a certain size.
My overwhelming concern is that what is being proposed virtually slams the door in the face of any young farmer hoping to ever get started, it is primarily designed for large estates & Tory donors who will reap the benefit at the expense of the smaller farmer!
 
As I have repeatedly pointed out the only way that happens is if land is nationalised, and farmers become employees of the State. Then the only thing they can spend their wages on is themselves. If farmers are private individuals in business then any cash that is given to them by the State by any method can (and will) be spent on new machinery (ending up in the manufacturers pocket), paying rent on land (ending up in landowners pockets) or spent on inputs (ending up in suppliers pockets).

There is literally no way you can give money to people in business that stops them going and spending it on business expenses, short of prohibiting them from being in business in the first place. Look at all the different types of subsidy system we have tried over the last 80 years. The only one that worked in making farmers rich was the guaranteed price system, and that just ended up in butter mountains and stores full of intervention grain, so thats not coming back. Everything else has just leached out into higher rents and higher input and machinery prices. Its the nature of the subsidy beast.
So it’s about as solvable a problem as the NI protocol then ….
 

Clive

Staff Member
NFFN Member
Location
Lichfield
I think it is really funny how farm contractors like Clive who probably were not in Enviroment schemes for the last 15yrs or more are now going to learn about Bureaucracy that makes Red Tractor look like a picnic! Yes Clive you will find by the end of the pilot that if time is money you will be below the minimum wage after you finish the pilot... have fun as it is a great badge of honour to help design a scheme. Those of us with CS and HLS schemes joined them with money and time as a secondary consideration.. enjoy your journey and please dont winge when it becomes too bureaucratic

I'm pivoting my business into product and service that is in demand rather than pointlessly trying to continue producing products that are not - the opportunity to be involved in shaping that change is logical to take

I hate subsidies, always have done and the faster we can move away from them the better IMO. cutting them off overnight isn't a viable option for most however, I hope the many issues of previous schemes have been learnt from and I genuinely believe DEFRA are wanting to get this right by farmers.............. AND tax payers
 
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Dave645

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
N Lincs
Starting to sound abit communist, forcing people who at significant risk, cost and hard work over many years to give up land that is integral to their business.
We would be considered a big farm in that we manage quite a lot of acres, but we don’t own many, and my father started of with 80 acres in 1987 when the business started. Are you saying we should give up all the land we manage for others/rent and just farm our own 400 acres (much of which has a mortgage) and a lifetimes work and relationships gone like that to let someone else have a go by offering new entrants subsidy in order to undercut established businesses in both the rental and contract farming market?
I don’t think sub 1000 acre farms are classed as large, your forgetting that some farmers were getting million pounds a year from the RPA, while I have no clue what your farm size is but if you have 400 acres and say the same again rented/leased, depending on the rent cost your paying will affect a lot, and high rents were part of the problems created by the last system, with sub of £90/acre and profits from economies of scale, rents jumped up, farmers were willing to gamble and pay high rents, because the system didn’t cap the payments, so getting the £90/acre payment on as much land as they could get, this encouraged large farms to get larger on artificial profits. While that was not blocked in the old system it’s unlikley to continue in any new system.

all the new system does is cut that off, just like if they used a max cap.

If I were guessing I would say farm size, would not be controlled like your saying, if your profitable operating under the cap then you carry on as normal, but adding extra land via buying it or renting it add zero to the money you get from the RPA if your already at max under the cap.
Once in place farm sizes would adjust to fit the new payment structure.
So it will be less tempting to over pay for rented land because it doesn’t increase you payments if they are already maxed out. if they only get max£50k per year your naturally forced to drop unprofitable land that’s barely economic under the old system never mind the new, you stop renting land with barely a profit to be made, you stop buying land you cannot service the mortgages on and make actual business decisions based on farm and crop profitability not the level of payments you get.

the national average wage in the uk is about £30k the people on income support are on far less, so what justifies any single person receiving more than £30k per year in payments? That’s just supporting a loss making business, while they could do zero work and make £30k? For just owning the land?


if a farm is operating at a loss and cannot make any money over and above the governments payments why is it operating?
Small farm like mine gets far less than the national average wage and it supports my family and my parents. So 2 homes.
We have to make a profit over and above the sub ideally making a matching amount of money as we get in payments. So we can live and invest in the farm.
this is without economies of scale and carrying fully retired parents, that contribute little to no labour, in the running of the farm.

when I talked about incentives it would be for large land owners to offer new entrants access to land If the new entrants were helped to start, then the extra money they get say to help them rent land actually goes to the large land owner, as well it’s not they get advantages access to rental markets. If the new entrant gets anything it’s extra payment per HA. If they chose to use them to rent land or buy equipment that’s up to them, over paying on rents doesn’t strike me as a good plan for new entrants.

So while the large land owner get capped, they then start to get rent income or tenancy incomes from land, if they rent it out.
And a some point the new entrant stops being a new entrant and they have to pay the rent from their own farms income, under the cap scheme. Those paying rent will likely see rent prices fall, as renting land that’s barely profitable becomes less attractive more land at less money become available for those under the cap, or that are farming more profitably.

as for new entrants under cutting, they have zero chance of that, they will be investing, in machinery and stock and buildings for 10 plus years they will have zero chance and ability to undercut existing farmers.

what would you be like if you were starting from nearly scratch? Rents to pay mortgages to pay if they buy land and equipment? You would be begging for every penny of support and most likely having a very hard time of it.

The whole system stops being overly state aided (communist), and actualy becomes more profit driven. (Capitalist)
And we help new entrants, which is actually very important. Capping just let’s more market forces act, on farmers and the choices they make. This is a very capitalist
 

Humble Village Farmer

Member
NFFN Member
Location
Cb97ej
Not sure the hotch potch that's being offered bares any resemblance to what was promised before & after Brexit, I think most of us are old enough to recognise the fact that this is the most dishonest government I can ever remember & nothing that is said by it should be taken at face value!
It's pretty much what I was expecting. Not to say I disagree with your second point though.
 

Humble Village Farmer

Member
NFFN Member
Location
Cb97ej
My overwhelming concern is that what is being proposed virtually slams the door in the face of any young farmer hoping to ever get started, it is primarily designed for large estates & Tory donors who will reap the benefit at the expense of the smaller farmer!
Someone has got to do the work and they will need paying. The days of a privileged lifestyle making up for below minimal wages have gone.
 

BrianV

Member
Livestock Farmer
I don’t think sub 1000 acre farms are classed as large, your forgetting that some farmers were getting million pounds a year from the RPA, while I have no clue what your farm size is but if you have 400 acres and say the same again rented/leased, depending on the rent cost your paying will affect a lot, and high rents were part of the problems created by the last system, with sub of £90/acre and profits from economies of scale, rents jumped up, farmers were willing to gamble and pay high rents, because the system didn’t cap the payments, so getting the £90/acre payment on as much land as they could get, this encouraged large farms to get larger on artificial profits. While that was not blocked in the old system it’s unlikley to continue in any new system.

all the new system does is cut that off, just like if they used a max cap.

If I were guessing I would say farm size, would not be controlled like your saying, if your profitable operating under the cap then you carry on as normal, but adding extra land via buying it or renting it add zero to the money you get from the RPA if your already at max under the cap.
Once in place farm sizes would adjust to fit the new payment structure.
So it will be less tempting to over pay for rented land because it doesn’t increase you payments if they are already maxed out. if they only get max£50k per year your naturally forced to drop unprofitable land that’s barely economic under the old system never mind the new, you stop renting land with barely a profit to be made, you stop buying land you cannot service the mortgages on and make actual business decisions based on farm and crop profitability not the level of payments you get.

the national average wage in the uk is about £30k the people on income support are on far less, so what justifies any single person receiving more than £30k per year in payments? That’s just supporting a loss making business, while they could do zero work and make £30k? For just owning the land?


if a farm is operating at a loss and cannot make any money over and above the governments payments why is it operating?
Small farm like mine gets far less than the national average wage and it supports my family and my parents. So 2 homes.
We have to make a profit over and above the sub ideally making a matching amount of money as we get in payments. So we can live and invest in the farm.
this is without economies of scale and carrying fully retired parents, that contribute little to no labour, in the running of the farm.

when I talked about incentives it would be for large land owners to offer new entrants access to land If the new entrants were helped to start, then the extra money they get say to help them rent land actually goes to the large land owner, as well it’s not they get advantages access to rental markets. If the new entrant gets anything it’s extra payment per HA. If they chose to use them to rent land or buy equipment that’s up to them, over paying on rents doesn’t strike me as a good plan for new entrants.

So while the large land owner get capped, they then start to get rent income or tenancy incomes from land, if they rent it out.
And a some point the new entrant stops being a new entrant and they have to pay the rent from their own farms income, under the cap scheme. Those paying rent will likely see rent prices fall, as renting land that’s barely profitable becomes less attractive more land at less money become available for those under the cap, or that are farming more profitably.

as for new entrants under cutting, they have zero chance of that, they will be investing, in machinery and stock and buildings for 10 plus years they will have zero chance and ability to undercut existing farmers.

what would you be like if you were starting from nearly scratch? Rents to pay mortgages to pay if they buy land and equipment? You would be begging for every penny of support and most likely having a very hard time of it.

The whole system stops being overly state aided (communist), and actualy becomes more profit driven. (Capitalist)
And we help new entrants, which is actually very important. Capping just let’s more market forces act, on farmers and the choices they make. This is a very capitalist
The only way young farmers are going to get into the industry with their own set up is if there is a base payment (SFP) for the first 100 hectares & ELMS above that with a £50,000 cap on any ELMS payments, DEFRA talk of up to £500,000 cap on an ELMS reservoir grant is the most obscene thing I have ever read!
 
The soils standard (Introductory and intermediate) calls for 70% green cover over the winter months, 1st Dec to 1st March.
I quote 'Cover must be well established by 1st December'
To achieve this winter cereal crops must be well established by then, that's just not practical for many farms, here in the fens the main drilling period is mid October onwards, with many not going into the ground until well in November, after sugar beet some won't finish drilling until the new year.
As of today (2nd December) I have 90% of our Winter cereal acreage drilled, but only 30% well established.
Sorry to have been slow to reply to this one -
Winter cereals from late October are unlikely to deliver the level of cover required by the 1st December. In order to meet the 70% coverage you could consider adjusting your rotation, sowing cover crops immediately post harvest and moving to spring cropping or, where possible, undersowing the previous crop. It is also worth noting deep peat soils below the moorland line are not eligible for the soils Standards.

Also note you can enter as many or few of your parcels into SFI as you wish, so you could choose a selection that allows you to meet the 70% requirement.
 

Clive

Staff Member
NFFN Member
Location
Lichfield
‘Cos a lot of the money gets funnelled to folk who already have more money than they know what to do with anyway - it needs to be aimed at those who work the land - not primarily at those who already own it outright.

I couldn't agree more - giving subsidy for land owning is frankly an obscene use of tax, especially when you consider that land owners are some of the most wealthy people in society / often not even UK resident. The market distorting subsidising production of food is as bad and has been proven to fail for decades now, it has damaged UK agriculture almost to a point beyond repair

Giving money to people who manage / farm land and provide public and ecosystem good is very different and I REALLY hope the mechanisms of SFI ensure that the farmer / land manager is essential and can't be bypassed by someone simply owning land and making a claim

I think the above is the biggest challenge @Defra Farming @Janet Hughes Defra team face in all this - get that bit right and SFI will succeed, get it wrong and it will be the end of UK agriculture
 
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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

court-640x360.jpg
A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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