Farmers are encouraged to participate in the Pilot Sustainable Agriculture Incentive – the next step in the government’s landmark plans to reward farmers and land managers for sustainable farming practices.

Details of the new program were released today (Wednesday March 10th) and the expressions of interest for the pilot will open from Monday March 15th.

Now that the UK has left the EU and is no longer bound by the bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy, the government is introducing a new system tailored to the interests of our farmers. It is the most significant change in agriculture and land management in 50 years, aimed at creating a renewed agricultural sector that produces healthy food for home and abroad where farms can be profitable and economically sustainable.

The Incentive for Sustainable Agriculture is the first of three pilot projects that were tested and jointly designed. More information on the other two programs, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery, will be released later this year.

The three programs will reward farmers and land managers for producing public goods such as biodiversity, clean water, cleaner air, soil improvement and carbon reduction on their land. You will help our farmers, foresters and other land managers play a vital role in national efforts to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

The Sustainable Agriculture Incentive will support approaches to agriculture that are beneficial to the environment, e.g. B. Measures to improve soil health, hedges and integrated pest management. For example, a farmer can be paid to manage and plant hedges to provide year-round food, shelter, and brood protection for birds and insects, or to take steps to increase the organic matter content in soils.

The pilot will build on the great success of the ongoing test and trial program, which already involves over 3,000 farmers and other land managers. Tests and trials focus on trying out individual parts of the future program such as land management plans or different payment methods – while the pilot will test a working version of the program from start to finish.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

The ethos at the center of our future policy is to support the decisions of individual farms.

The incentive for sustainable agriculture will support the environment and promote animal welfare. It will reward farming approaches such as promoting integrated pest management, improving soil health and improving hedges.

Assets previously identified as “ineligible characteristics” will eventually be recognized and rewarded. I would like to encourage farmers to take part in this pilot project to help us design the new system.

Farmers need to fill out a short, simple online form to submit their expressions of interest to participate in the Incentive for Sustainable Agriculture pilot project.

Successful applicants will then be asked to fill out their application. If they are eligible, they will sign a pilot agreement from October 2021. This first phase is open to several hundred farmers, reflecting the distribution of farm types and locations in England.

Pilot participants are asked to participate in a range of co-design activities and provide quick feedback on their experience with all aspects of the process – from pre-application to implementation of their agreements. This will ensure that once the system is fully implemented, it will be fully functional and user-friendly by 2024.

Eligibility to participate

A farmer is only eligible for the first phase of the Incentive Pilot Project for Sustainable Agriculture if he:

  • are recipients of the basic payment system registered in the system of the Rural Payments Agency
  • Enter land parcels (fields) in the pilot project for which an agri-environmental agreement is not yet in place
  • Management control of the land for the duration of the pilot. They must either own the property with management control or have a lease of sufficient length to implement their pilot contract (including permission from the landlord if required).
  • Enter land parcels in England
  • Enter land parcels that are not ordinary land

In the first phase of the pilot, participants can choose from a first set of eight standards to make their own arrangements. The standards promote cleaner air and water and protect against environmental risks such as climate change and floods. Within each standard, participants can choose from three levels: introductory, intermediate and advanced. Each level is more challenging and rewarding than the previous level and offers greater environmental benefits.

In the first phase of the pilot project, the payment rates for land management measures will be set at a level that broadly corresponds to the rates in the framework of the Countryside Stewardship. This is just a starting position and updated payment rates are currently being developed in consultation with farmers and representative groups for the introduction of the Incentive Program for Sustainable Agriculture from 2022.

Farmers participating in pilot projects will continue to receive their BPS payments while they sign pilot contracts. It would be possible that a farmer is involved in the piloting and participates in a CS (Countryside Stewardship) agreement – but not in the same parcels (fields). In other words, a farmer could have some land parcels in the pilot and other parcels in CS, but not the same parcels in both.

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