On 4 January 2024 the Secretary of State Steve Barclay attended the Oxford Farming Conference and announced an upgrade to farming schemes which focussed on  updating prices in the environmental land management schemes and giving farmers more choice of options.

In the speech he announced that:

  • average rates for actions in Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship have increased by 10%.  Defra will automatically apply any uplifts to existing agreements where applicable
  • around 50 new actions are being added to the Environmental Land Management schemes from summer 2024.
  • from this summer farmers will be able to apply for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier and Sustainable Farming Incentive actions together – through one application. Meaning, farmers will have access to the same actions and can have the same ambition, with less paperwork.
  • Defra will consult on improving food labelling to tackle the unfairness created by unclear labelling – including better highlighting imports that do not meet UK welfare standards.
  • Defra will be setting out some principles and standards for how everyone across Defra group works with farmers, so they can build trust and ensure changes are made with farmers, not to them.

Read this blog post to learn more about the announcement.

On Friday 26 January at 10.00am, Defra is holding a webinar for farmers. During the session, they’ll go through the actions and payments available through their environmental land management schemes in 2024.   Farming and Countryside Programme Director, Janet Hughes will be joined by the policy lead working on the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Jonathan Marsden. Colleagues from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will be there to explain the offer and answer your questions.   If you can’t make the webinar, a recording will be made available afterwards.  Visit this page to book your place on the webinar.