17 March 2021

The window is now open for farmers to express interest in taking part in the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is the first in a package of environmental land management schemes, which will provide a straightforward way for farmers to get paid for producing public goods. These include cleaner water, cleaner air and carbon reduction.

Defra will start to pilot the Sustainable Farming Incentive this year with an initial group of several hundred farmers. Then, in March 2022, will start to roll out the scheme to recipients of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Who’s eligible for the pilot

Defra would like to involve several hundred farmers in the first phase of the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot, from a range of farm types from across England.

For the first phase of piloting, a farmer is only eligible if they:

  • are a recipient of the Basic Payments Scheme, registered on the Rural Payments Agency system
  • enter land parcels (fields) into the pilot that do not have an existing agri-environment agreement on them
  • have management control of the land for the duration of the pilot. They must either own the land with management control or have a tenancy of enough length to implement their pilot agreement (including landlord’s permission if required)
  • enter land parcels that are in England
  • enter land parcels that are not common land  Later, the plan is to extend eligibility to include farmers who aren’t eligible for, or don’t claim, BPS. We also might add specific farm types not eligible for the first phase, like farms on common land.

How to take part 

To express an interest, you just need to complete a short, simple online form.

Farmers from a mix of farms and locations will then be invited to make a pilot application. If the Pilot is oversubscribed, farmers will be selected at random instead. People who have been invited to apply will then need to prepare their full application. If they’re eligible, they will then enter into a pilot agreement. The first agreements will go live in October 2021.


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