National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice-president Tom Bradshaw has said that the delivery of the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot will be an “important step” in the development of the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

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“Like Defra, the NFU wants the Sustainable Farming Incentive to be taken up by most English farms,” he said.

We look forward to seeing further details as soon as they are available to ensure potential applicants for the pilot are able to make informed business decisions.

“This first phase of the pilot only includes eight standards, so it is important that further development phases include areas such as net zero and animal health and welfare. It’s also crucial that these standards are not too prescriptive.”

‘Every farm business is unique’

Bradshaw continued: “Every farm business is unique and the scheme needs to be structured so that it offers something for every farmer.

Most importantly of all, the scheme needs to enable farmers to run profitable businesses. The pilot must be used to ensure the scheme is engaging, simple to enter and deliver and operates effectively alongside food production.

“We understand the pilot is very much a work in progress and it is imperative that DEFRA uses it to work with farmers to test and develop a scheme that works and is accessible to all farm businesses,” he concluded.