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Farmers who keep cattle, sheep and pigs can now get funding of up to £684 per species to pay for a vet to visit their farm and carry out an annual health and welfare review. This has been under review as part of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) since it first began in September 2022, previously by invitation, but now available for three years to all eligible farmers from February 2023. Although the review sits alongside the Environmental Land Management standards that we have blogged about previously, the good news for Lincolnshire livestock farmers is you don’t need to have an SFI agreement to be eligible to apply.

This annual health & welfare review aims to:

·       reduce endemic diseases like bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in cattle, porcine reproductive & respiratory disease (PRRS) in pigs and effectiveness of worming treatments in sheep

·       improve the welfare of your animals

·       increase productivity

·       ensure appropriate use of veterinary medicines and vaccines

·       be primarily for the farmer, and not used for inspections or compliance

Who can apply for this funding initially?

Livestock keepers which a single business identifier (SBI) linked to a county parish holding (CPH) number registered in England (permanent or temporary, registered in England NOT Wales or Scotland) are eligible to apply if they have:

·       11 or more beef cattle

·       11 or more dairy cattle

·       21 or more sheep

·       51 or more pigs

·       Livestock must be registered in England

·       You must be responsible for their welfare.

Do you need to be eligible for BPS to apply?

Although this scheme is initially open for one type of livestock to farmers who are either eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) or anticipating making a BPS claim in 2023 with at least 5 hectares of BPS eligible land and 5 or more BPS entitlements on 16 May 2022, it will be more widely open shortly so it’s worth exploring,

If you have more than one eligible type of livestock, you must choose which to have reviewed. In future, it may be possible to apply for more than one type of livestock, or if they are kept at different geographical locations, you may be eligible for more than one annual review. The government has promised more information on this before applications open.

How much funding is available?

Payments are different for each species and not for each animal. Testing for some species may take longer to do, and some results cost more to analyse, so the payment covers vet costs, testing for endemic diseases and conditions and your time.

·       £684 for a pig review

·       £436 for a sheep review

·       £522 for a beef cattle review

·       £372 for a dairy cattle review

Flexible reviews to suit your livestock

You and the vet can decide what the priorities are for your farm. There’s no set amount of time but it’s likely to take between 2 to 3 hours for each of you. Time will also be needed to carry out the required testing and for the vet to discuss results with you and recommend actions that you can take to improve health and welfare based on testing and their time on the farm.

You’ll find detailed guidelines on what the review must provide on the government website including a requirement to share some information relevant to the health and welfare of your livestock, including test results. Optional extras include checking biosecurity measures and advice to improving them, plus recommendations about medicines used on your farm including antibiotics and vaccinations.

Reviews to improve health and welfare

The vet’s review will give you a report that includes endemic disease or condition test results from the laboratory, advice or suggested species-specific health and welfare actions. You will also receive agreed priority recommendations and actions to improve the health and welfare of your livestock. This report will not be shared with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or used for any regulatory or site visit purposes.

“Today’s announcement is great news for Lincolnshire’s livestock farmers.” says Ella from Masons Rural team, “It’s the perfect opportunity to increase productivity by investing in the health and welfare of your stock without incurring the cost. I anticipate it being a popular source of funding for our clients with livestock and look forward to sharing the good news with our clients at Louth Livestock Market.”

If you’d like to explore funding options available to you and your livestock business, please do not hesitate to contact our inhouse experts, Ella Redrup and Lucy Turner on 01507 350500 Option 3. We are always happy to help.