Enrollment dates announced for SFI 2023

Defra’s expanded Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will be accepting applications from 18th September, with farmers able to register their interest from this Wednesday (30th August) through the online Rural Payments service, the government has announced today.

While the promised August launch date for the scheme has been missed, the announcement provides certainty for farmers looking to plan ahead for the upcoming year.

Defra claims pre-registration will help ensure producers have all the necessary information in place, including online maps and land use/cover details, ready for the launch of the scheme in mid-September.

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.

The government has also confirmed payments under SFI 2023 will be issued quarterly to support farmers’ cashflow, including to those registering for the first time this September.

Defra secretary 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 revised scheme were published in June this year in the SFI 2023 handbook to aid farmers planning ahead for autumn plantings and deciding on feasible actions.

In addition, the government has extended the application window for 2024 Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier agreements until Friday 15th September to enable as many farmers as possible to join the scheme.

Producers can be part of both SFI and Countryside Stewardship (CS) at the same time, as long as the actions are compatible and do not overlap.

Defra says the confirmed timeline for SFI allows for final technical adjustments to ensure the scheme works effectively for all participants and aligns with the closing date for CS.

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