Farmers reject Defra declare SFI funds are ‘extra beneficiant’ – Farmers

A social media submit from Defra, claiming that the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is “extra beneficiant” than EU schemes has triggered a backlash from farmers in England.

The Defra submit poses the query “How does the Sustainable Farming Incentive work?” and features a video explaining the three requirements obtainable – arable soils, improved grassland soils and moorland – which can assist farmers grow to be extra sustainable.

See additionally: Sustainable Farming Incentive opens for functions in England

With functions now open and extra requirements within the pipeline, the video factors to the Defra web site, promising fee three months after becoming a member of.

However its declare that “the funding [is] extra beneficiant than that of EU schemes” has been challenged by farmers who say they’re shedding way more in cuts to their Fundamental Fee Scheme (BPS) cash than they stand to realize from SFI.

“We misplaced about £21,000 final yr in BPS cuts and can lose the identical once more this yr, and so forth till it’s all gone,” mentioned Simon Bainbridge, who runs Bainbridge Farms close to Morpeth in Northumberland.

On an extensively managed upland farm, there have been few alternatives to spice up manufacturing to make good any internet loss, he added.

“Now we have already reduce all the prices we will, employed much less labour and diversified into the whole lot from cottages to fishing lakes. Like many, we simply don’t know what else to do.”

Mr Bainbridge mentioned that even when the SFI had been extra beneficiant, he can be unable to affix as his entire farm was tied up in pre-existing natural and upland stewardship schemes, “and you’ll’t do the identical factor twice on the identical floor”.

“The declare SFI is extra beneficiant is a blatant mistruth and really unfair,” he mentioned. “One other farmer I do know who has been concerned within the pilots has seemed into it and it simply doesn’t stack up.”


Farmers columnist Joe Stanley additionally responded to the Defra tweet, describing the declare as “significantly baffling”. He mentioned it was “irritating” that the federal government was frequently making an attempt to border coverage “in opposition to the EU”.

“On any metric, English farmers will likely be financially worse off underneath SFI vs CAP,” he tweeted.

Tenant Farmers Affiliation chief government George Dunn agreed that there was a “gulf between the fact and the aspiration”.

“There may be undoubtedly an aspiration at Defra that your entire Environmental Land Administration scheme ought to be extra beneficiant than earlier EU agri-environment schemes,” he mentioned. “On condition that the BPS is being dismantled, it must be.”

However to counsel this was already the case was “naive and patently unfaithful”.

“Defra has solely simply opened the door on the SFI, and there’s extra to come back. After we get there, it should be extra beefy, extra wide-ranging and higher funded,” Mr Dunn mentioned. “However it’s a bit disingenuous to say it’s ‘extra beneficiant’ than EU schemes already.”

Nevertheless, Mr Dunn additionally cautioned towards criticising Defra and the SFI an excessive amount of, stating that, with a brand new prime minister on the best way and an financial recession looming, the prospects of future total finances cuts had been appreciable.

Defra has been invited to reply.

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