Farmers taking part in Defra's pilot to be paid £5,000

Defra will pay £5,000 to each farmer participant in the first year of the SFI pilot
Defra will pay £5,000 to each farmer participant in the first year of the SFI pilot

Farmers who are testing a pilot version of the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme will be paid £5,000 for their time, Defra has revealed.

Those taking part will be paid for their work and costs associated with learning activities, which are expected to take up to 15 hours a month.

This payment will be £5,000 per pilot participant in the first year of the pilot, and it will be paid in monthly instalments.

This is in addition to the payments farmers will receive for their land management actions, Defra confirmed on Monday (7 June).

More than 2,000 farmers responded to its call for applicants to take part in the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) pilot, which is due to start in October.

The SFI is the next step in the the government's post-Brexit plan to reward farmers for sustainable farming practices that enhance the environment.

It is one of three new schemes that will help to deliver on the UK's carbon net zero targets, with an aim for a full roll out from 2024.

As part of the pilot, learning activities are expected to take up to 15 hours a month, and farmers will be paid for this time.

Defra explained more about the scheme in a new update released on Monday: "Most of these hours will involve ‘thinking while doing’.

"For example, you’d be thinking about how aspects of the scheme (such as advice or land management actions) could be improved, while you’re planning or physically undertaking work."

On the £5,000 payment, the department said: "This is a flat rate, meaning that everyone is paid the same regardless of how much land they have in their agreement.

"The demand on your time for learning activities is the same for all participants."

It added this payment would be reviewed for future years of the pilot, depending on how much time is spent on the activities and how much learning is needed.

Learning activities will be based on a farmer's experience of carrying out actions associated with the pilot agreement.

This includes things like: making an application and entering into an agreement; delivering an agreement; planning and implementing the land management actions chosen.

Defra said it would run a programme of surveys, interviews and workshops to gather information about farmers' experiences.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is the first of the UK's three new environmental schemes to be piloted and co-designed.

The government says further information on the other two schemes, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery, will be shared later this year.

More information on the SFI pilot can be found on the government's 'Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot: how you’ll help Defra learn' webpage.