Scheme pays farmers to protect the environment during food production

Defra secretary Thérèse Coffey

Defra secretary Thérèse Coffey

Image: Chris McAndrew

Farmers can sign up for the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) from 18 September and will be invited to register their interest from Wednesday 30 August by the Rural Payments Agency, Defra has announced.

The government said the announcement of the dates would provide certainty, while 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, while protecting and enhancing environment.

There are 23 actions on offer under the 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 in a handbook, allowing farmers to plan ahead for autumn planting and what they will apply for, Coffey noted.

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.

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.