NSA encouraged by Defra announcement on SFI and local produce
The National Sheep Association (NSA) has said it is “encouraged” by Defra’s announcement on Tuesday 12th September, which provided further information on the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and backed industry calls to promote buying British produce.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “NSA welcomes this announcement and is pleased with the overall package of measures for farming as a whole, in particular those benefitting sheep farmers. The progress being made with SFI is encouraging as well as measures to help British farmers access public procurement markets. Ministers and the Secretary of State have worked hard to advance SFI in the way we are seeing, as have Defra and RPA staff who are also busy putting it into action.
“Speaking to many NSA members it is clear the principles are largely in line with our values and also the scheme seems to be working and encouraging ‘good actions’ on the farm. We look forward to SFI, Countryside Stewardship, and all the new Future Farming schemes being further developed and simplified in due course, and are keen to see more development of options for upland farmers based on ‘whole farm principles’ that support traditional sensitive approaches in the very near future. Finally, NSA looks forward to Defra’s intention of getting over the summit of ‘peak confusion’ in new scheme options and understanding.”
Back British produce
The announcement came on the eve of ‘Back British Farming’ Day, with Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announcing plans to build on the commitment to keep British farmers producing 60% of the food consumed in the UK, and to provide a boost to the UK’s £127 billion food and farming sector.
The Food and Farming Secretary also backed calls for industry-led action to signpost customers to ‘Buy British’ when they shop online and will support campaigns to endorse the taste and quality of home-grown meat and dairy products.
Stocker continued: “NSA has been calling for Government support when it comes to retailer signposting of British food for a long time, it is extremely encouraging that those calls are not going unanswered. Allowing consumers to have better, clearer access to British produce will be key in ensuring the environmental gains, public goods, and sustainable produce is clearly and readily available to consumers across the UK, boosting our own self sufficiency and reducing our reliance on high environmental impact food imports.”
NSA was also pleased to welcome the announcement of a new package of funding worth £4 million to support small abattoirs.
Stocker concluded: “Although this type of support has been needed for some time it is certainly a case of ‘better late than never’. However, more detail is needed on the fund to allow us to fully appreciate the support this can provide and the effectiveness it can have in maintaining and hopefully rebuilding Britain’s network of small independent abattoirs, a crucial part of the livestock industry’s supply chain.”