Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely is encouraging local farmers to take advantage of a new government pilot scheme that compensates farmers and land managers for sustainable farming practices.

Under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme, farmers will be paid to adopt agricultural practices that benefit the environment. These could include planting hedgerows to provide year-round food, shelter and breeding cover for birds and insects, improving soil, and using environmentally friendly approaches to pest management.

Farmers must submit their expressions of interest via an online form to take part. The incentive will eventually be open to all farmers but is initially open to recipients of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) – the biggest of the rural grants and payments that provide help to the farming industry. The government intends to roll out the scheme fully in 2024.

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Mr Seelyhas  said:

“Having spoken to farmers on the Island, I’m well aware that the priority for farmers post-Brexit is to produce high-quality British food whilst managing the environment sensitively. That is always going to be their priority. However, taking care of the natural environment is also an important part of their role, especially on the Island, and especially now as the council and I work towards examining the possibility of greater landscape protection for the Island.

“I look forward to working with farmers to develop a prosperous farming economy in which more of us are eating Island produce whilst at the same time ensuring that we have the highest environmental protections.

“This scheme is a good way to reward farmers for their efforts and incentivise them to do even more to look after our natural environment. I encourage eligible Isle of Wight farmers to sign up”.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is the first of 3 pilot schemes that help farmers look after the environment. Further information on the other two schemes, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery, will be shared later this year.

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Together, the three schemes will reward farmers, foresters and other land managers to play a crucial role in the national effort to tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions through environmentally-friendly practices such as increasing biodiversity, improving soil quality and improving water and air quality.

Laurence Taylor, Chair of the CLA, has said:

“The CLA fully supports this pilot and is encouraging eligible farmers and land managers to take part.

“Not only will the SFI contribute to more environmental farming practices, it will also provide an essential funding bridge for farmers as BPS payments are systematically reduced over the next few years. It’s important to ensure that the design and administration of the SFI is well tested to ensure it is right before being rolled out more widely”.

Further information on the pilot can be found here.

Island Echo