Under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) Defra will pay farmers in England to produce public goods such as water quality, biodiversity, animal health and welfare and climate change mitigation, alongside food production. The SFI is one of three strands – alongside the Landscape Recovery scheme and the Local Nature Recovery scheme – which together form the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs).

The Landworkers’ Alliance has been actively engaged as part of the stakeholder group to co-develop these schemes, and has been successfully running the Growing the Goods trial since July 2020. This trial has been part of the test and trial phase of ELMs, and we therefore welcome Defra’s announcement.

Jyoti Fernandes, Policy and Campaigns Coordinator for the Landworkers’ Alliance has said:

“We are particularly pleased that there is a central focus [in the SFI] on protecting our soils and well managed grassland to store carbon which cools the earth. There is also a commitment to paying for agroforestry, so that trees can be planted on farms. It’s a fantastic way to improve carbon storage on farmland which also enhances food production capacity.

We are also pleased that the announcement includes a strong commitment to Organic farming, including an Organic standard. The LWA, working together with the English Organic Forum and Sustain, received positive support from Farming Minister Victoria Prentis towards an explicit recognition of organic farming and were delighted that this commitment was in the text of the announcement.

The major disappointment is the lack of commitment to improving public access and engagement on farms. We will make a submission to DEFRA to encourage them to revise the importance of bringing people into closer contact with nature and a deeper knowledge about where their food comes from.”

You can read more about the SFI, and how it will work in 2022 by clicking here.