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Grant Funding & Schemes Update (including the SFI Expanded Offer!) – May 2024

Since the 15th May 2024, the RPA have implemented several updates to grant funding and schemes. To help streamline this information, we have compiled these updates into one newsletter for your convenience. Whilst there is a lot of information to digest, our team of experienced consultants are always on hand to provide any further clarification and answer any questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for assistance!


1. The Future of SFI and Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier in 2024 (THE SFI EXPANDED OFFER)


There will be a new version of SFI later this year, “The Expanded Offer.” This will combine both options from SFI and Countryside Stewardship into one streamlined application. Applications will be opened in a controlled way from June 2024, with the RPA inviting people to apply. The scheme will follow a similar approach to the existing SFI 2023 Offer i.e., open all year round to applications, payments being made quarterly, and more flexible management prescriptions.




This year, the number of SFI actions will increase from 23 to 102!! This includes 22 of the existing SFI actions, 23 new actions (including precision farming, flood and water management, agroforestry and no till) and 57 improved CS Mid-Tier options.


If you are already in an SFI or Countryside Stewardship Scheme, you will be able to apply for a new Expanded Offer agreement. However, will only be able to apply for actions that are eligible for use alongside your existing agreement commitments and not ‘dual use’ i.e., being paid for the same thing twice.


There will also be a continuation of the ‘Limited Area Actions’ i.e., those actions that can only be utilised on a maximum of 25% of the farmed agricultural land (land registered as arable, permanent grassland or permanent crops). This will include the following actions in the Expanded Offer, which will often be reviewed by DEFRA in the future.


If you are an organic certified farmer, you will be eligible for SFI actions not specifically for organic land and for organic specific options in the Expanded Offer. There will also be actions available for converting land to organic and managing organic land once fully converted to organic status.





2.      SFI 2023 Offer


As far as we understand, applications will continue to be open for the current SFI window. Should the RPA look to close this window, a 6-week notice period will be given.


If you would like to add any of the newly available actions in the Expanded Offer to your existing SFI agreement, you can do so at the end of each agreement year using an ‘upgrade request’ (details of which are to be confirmed). If the RPA agrees to the upgrade request, the actions will be applied to your agreement as of the start of the next agreement year. Alternatively, you can apply for a separate Expanded Offer agreement to run alongside your existing SFI agreement.


3.      Want to explore ending an existing agreement early to enter a new scheme?


The RPA have published details on how existing CS Mid-Tier and Higher-Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme holders can end existing agreements early to be able to apply for SFI. From September, you can end an agreement early if you are either:


a. at the end of the current agreement year (and therefore you will receive the full payment for that claim year).

b. before the end of the current agreement year (but will not receive payment for the part of the agreement year that you have already completed).

There is now no requirement for the new SFI agreement to be the same or similar to the agreement you are ending. Additionally, if you wish to end a CS Higher Tier agreement early, this will only be agreed by exception (more details are to be published on this in the summer).


4.      Animal Health and Welfare Reviews – Payments Update


The existing offer of funding a vet visit to the farm is outlined below. However, the RPA are now offering additional payments to assist with more in-depth diagnostic testing for identifying persistently infected cattle on farms with BVD and advice on how to eliminate the disease from the farm. For sheep, farmers will consult with the vet to choose a health improvement package that works best for their flock.


Current Offer:

£522 beef cattle review

£372 dairy cattle review

£436 sheep review

£684 pig review


Additional Offer (This extra funding will be rolled out gradually in summer 2024):

£215 cattle with no BVD

£837 beef cattle where BVD is present in the herd

£1,714 dairy cattle where BVD is present in the herd

£639 sheep

£923 pigs

5.      Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier


Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier agreements will continue as a separate application. This will be available later this year (summer tbc) and will follow a rolling application window with quarterly payment schedule. There will also be less prescriptive actions where possible.


It is also worth noting that you will be able to apply for some SFI actions to deliver the outcomes of CS Higher Tier schemes and to support the delivery of other actions. A summary list of indicative SFI actions to be used in conjunction with CS Higher Tier’s can be found at the following link.


If you have been unsuccessful applying to CS Higher Tier in the past, the RPA have advised applying again as they are now looking to support twice as many CS Higher Tier applications as previously.


6.      Nutrient Management Feasibility Research Funding


There are 2 competition strands to this funding:


a.      Feasibility Studies  - projects up to 24 months with total costs between £200,000 and £500,000.

b.      Industrial Research – projects for 23-36 months with total costs between £500,00 and £1 million.

Example projects could include:

  • slurry concentration/ additives (novel treatment technologies)

  • technologies to allow cost-effective transportation of products from organic materials (dewatering/ pelletisation)

  • technologies to remove contaminants

  • improving understanding of bio stimulants

  • technologies to treat manures/ creating income streams from these products (e.g. gas capture, fuel pellets, building materials)

  • innovative spreading and application technologies to increase productivity/ accuracy and reduce environmental impact

  • adapted fertilisers to reduce risk of leaching and run-off

  • improving water quality through recovery of waste materials Applications will open on the 29th May 2024 and close at 11am on the 24th July 2024. A second round of this funding may also be available later this year.


7.      Laying Hen Housing for Health and Welfare Grant


You can apply to this grant for ‘veranda-only’ projects or to upgrade/ replace existing buildings currently housing laying hens or pullets. This will be to deliver health and welfare benefits including provision of a high level of biosecurity, excellent ambient environment and maximisation of space available by ensuring safe and full accessibility to all birds.


For comprehensive projects the minimum funding is £15,000 (40% of £37,500) and the maximum grant amount is £500,000. For veranda-only projects you can apply for a minimum of £5,000 (40% of £12,500) and a maximum of £100,000.


The online checker for veranda only and comprehensive projects is expected to open at the end of June 2024. There will be separate applications for each. It is suggested to apply as soon as possible as the once the value of applications received reaches the budget, a waiting list will be implemented.


Those interested in veranda-only projects will be invited to make a full application from July 2024, with comprehensive project applicants being invited to full application in October. You must be an existing commercial egg producer/ pullet rearer and a registered keeper of 1000+ birds (on site within the last 6 months at the point of completing the online checker).

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any queries. 01454 614 624.



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