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Shouler & Son has welcomed Defra’s announcement about increased payments for environmental schemes channelled through the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and the Countryside Stewardship (CS) schemes but the firm advises that their value to the farming sector can only be judged once the conclusion of the ELMS (Environmental Land Management Scheme) Rapid Review is published.

The increase in payments, announced at the Oxford Farming Conference, are at a level aimed to encourage small farm operators and tenant farmers to take up environmental projects under the umbrella of the existing SFI & CS schemes. Under the new SFI scheme payment arrangement, up to a further £1,000 will be available for nature-friendly schemes for the first 50 hectares.

The boost to habitat management projects under CS schemes will, according to Defra, see an average increase of 10 per cent to revenue rates. There is also a revision of capital payment rates for one-off projects. Commenting on the announcement of the new rates, Tim Harris, Rural Professional Associate at Shoulers, said, “Any payment support is, of course, welcome and it’s encouraging that Defra is nudging up the value and the range of payment support. “However, we join the rest of the farming sector in hoping that the review of ELMS - which has been ongoing since September last year - will conclude and report sooner rather than later.

“While appreciating that ELMS has component parts, businesses and operators need to see the detail of the overarching scheme before proper planning and adoption of schemes can take place.” For more information about the full range of rural services from Shouler & Son, see