Farmers can sign up for the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) from 18 September and start registering their interest from this Wednesday (30 August) through the online Rural Payments service, Defra has announced today.
The dates provide certainty and pre-registration will ensure farmers are supported to have all necessary information in place, including online maps and land use / cover details, so they are ready for when the scheme starts to accept applications from 18 September.
The SFI pays farmers for taking actions that support food production, farm productivity and resilience, whilst protecting and enhancing environment.
There are 23 actions on offer under the new and improved 2023 scheme, including on soil health, moorland, hedgerows, integrated pest management, farmland wildlife, buffer strips, and low input grassland.
Secretary of State for Food and Farming Thérèse Coffey said:
The Sustainable Farming Incentive is important for sustainability – for production and profitability. With opening up the options, from mid September for everyone, there is likely to be an opportunity for every eligible farmer to join SFI.
Full details of the SFI 2023 were published in June this year in a detailed handbook so that farmers can plan ahead for autumn planting and what they will apply for.
Unlike existing and previous schemes where farmers have had to wait until the end of the first year of their agreement to receive any payment, payments under SFI 2023 will be paid quarterly to support farmers’ cashflow and activities required in the scheme.
We have seen sustained increased demand for new CS agreements increase in recent years, with the number of agreements almost doubling over 3 years to 2023. This has continued into this year – we have already had 6,000 applications, with still 4 weeks to go before the extended deadline.
Following direct feedback from farmers and to enable as many people as possible to apply, the application window for 2024 Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier agreements has been extended until Friday 15 September.
Farmers are able to be in SFI and Countryside Stewardship at the same time as long as the actions are compatible, and they are not being paid for the same action twice. The confirmed timeline for SFI allows time for small final technical adjustments to ensure the service works as straightforwardly as possible for all our customers and aligns with the closing date for CS.
The Government’s flexible and accessible farming schemes are supporting farmers to keep the nation fed while protecting and enhancing our environment – and are all part of the £2.4 billion annual farming budget ringfenced for the life of this parliament.