To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when his Department plans to (a) publish (i) the remaining standards for the Sustainable Farming Incentive and (ii) the advanced level for the existing standards under the scheme and (b) open those schemes for applications from farmers.
In March 2021, we revealed the eight standards that were going to be piloted in the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot agreements. These are now live and the learning from the pilot is being fed into the design of the live scheme.
In December 2021, we published an indicative timetable for when we expect future elements of the scheme to roll out. The scheme will launch later this year with core elements of the Sustainable Farming Incentive, expanding those elements until we have the full offer available in 2025. As part of the early roll out in 2022 we will release the introductory and intermediate levels of the Arable and Horticultural Soils Standard and Improved Grassland Soils Standard, and the introductory level of the Moorland Standard, and, slightly later on, the annual health and welfare review. As indicated in the March publication of 2022, we intend to roll out the advanced levels of both soil standards in 2023 and the full moorland standard is set to be rolled out in 2024.
When the scheme launches later this year, farmers who are eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be eligible to apply for the Sustainable Farming Incentive. This covers most farmland in England. In later years, when we are ready to take on new customers not already registered for BPS, we will remove the BPS eligibility requirement, so a wider range of farmers will become eligible for the scheme. We do not expect to do this before 2024.