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SFI farm walks a “huge advantage” for future planning

Yorkshire farmer James Mills believes taking part in a Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) farm walk organised by GSC Grays has been a “huge advantage” in planning for the future.

GSC Grays, in partnership with NFU North, have hosted a series of SFI Farm walks across the North of England to help farmers understand how SFI can benefit their farm. The aim is to give a practical overview based how the host farm operates, allowing time for questions and discussion amongst the farmers in attendance.

SFI is a bespoke and flexible scheme that enables farmers to participate in a way that suits their farming operations. The initial application involves a number of options and expert advice can help clarify the process.

SFI income will be highly variable and that is why the farm walks and the free advice offered  to farmers provides a fresh perspective. James, a sheep and arable farmer near York, said:” The starting point is that it is free and it gives you an opportunity to get another pair of eyes to look at the business and analyse what the options are. For us it has been a huge advantage.

“Sometimes it sticks in the throat that the Basic Payment Scheme has been divvied up and handed to folks who are not delivering on the ground but once we looked at it in the context of SFI and understanding the intricate details behind the different standards, that is where the benefit does start to come back.

“It has kicked off conversations at home in terms of what we already do and what we can build on in the future if that is the direction that we choose to go in. We recognise we are not going to get it all back ,but if we can get something to supplement the farming income we make then now is the time to do it.”

GSC Grays is able to provide half day on-farm SFI reviews to all farmers who have a valid SBI number.  This free service allows a consultant to advise on a case by case basis the SFI options that will work best for the farm and the objectives of the farmer.

The SFI half day review is delivered as part of the GSC Grays Farm Business Advice Service which is funded through Defra’s Future Farming Resilience Fund.  Following the half day, further funded advice -up to two days- may be available on a case by case basis.

The Walks, which have had a high participation, have taken place on farms in Thirsk, Northallerton, Lancaster, Skipton, Alnwick and South of York covering mixed farming operations along with arable, beef and sheep, upland and dairy.  Each walks take half a day and finish with lunch and networking for those in attendance.

Many of the walks have been hosted by NFU members and the next series will take place in January 2024 at:

  • 9thJanuary, tenanted upland farm, Sowerby Bridge
  • 18thJanuary, mixed beef, sheep and arable farm at Welburn, Kirkbymoorside.
  • 23rdJanuary Newcastle University farm
  • 25thJanuary, upland grassland at Westerdale near Whitby.

Farmers who want to register interest should contact Laura-Beth Clarke on 03333 059059 or email

Article by

Nicolle Hamilton
Marketing & Communications Director

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