Upland farmers will be briefed on how they could earn thousands of pounds a year from a government payment scheme, at meetings to be held this month.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has organised five meetings on the ‘Sustainable Farm Incentive’ (SFI), the main new farm payment scheme in England.
The scheme, which has been trialled nationwide during the past year, will be open for applications from August.
Following representation from upland farmers – including some from the Yorkshire Dales – the payment for managing farmland as ‘very low input grassland’ will be £151 per hectare under SFI, up from £98 per hectare.
This and other attractive payment options for upland farmers will be highlighted at the meetings to be held in Reeth on 17 July, Sedbergh on 18 July, Settle on 20 July, Hawes on 24 July and Orton on 26 July.
Member Champion for the Natural Environment at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Mark Corner, said: “Part of our job is to help maintain the National Park as a largely farmed landscape. The government has now provided more clarity on the support that will be available to upland farmers to make that happen.
“The Sustainable Farming Incentive looks like it could be a good deal for upland farmers, helping to sustain family farms and nature-friendly food production in the Dales. It is designed to incentivise the sort of farming we must have if we want to conserve wildlife and make the landscape more resilient to the effects of climate change.
“On behalf of the Authority, I would warmly invite farmers along to one of the five meetings. We held a similar round of meetings on SFI this time last year but we had much less information then and the scheme has also changed a lot. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has produced a handbook on SFI and it hopes the scheme is simple enough to join without the assistance of a land agent, yet having a face-to-face talk with our farm conservation officers could prove helpful.”
One subject to be covered at the meetings is how SFI interacts with other schemes, including Higher Level Stewardship and Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship.
Another subject will be the main grassland payment options for upland farmers, with actions on herbal leys (£382/ha), soil assessments and plans (£95 per agreement + £5.80/ha), moorland assessments (£265 per agreement + £10.30/ha), nutrient management planning (£589/year) and options for hedgerow assessment to be outlined.
The Swaledale and Wensleydale Environment Farmers Group, which is an informal grouping of farmers, will be giving a brief update on their project at the Hawes and Reeth meetings.