Farmers who signed up for the early payments for the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) 2023 received their first payment this week, Defra has confirmed.
The SFI pays farmers in England to take action to support food production, farm profitability and resilience and to protect and enhance the environment. The early payments are worth 25% of the annual value.
The SFI offer for 2023 has already received record interest from farmers around the country, including farmers who have had agreements under SFI 2022. There have been over 14,000 registrations of interest and almost 1,000 applications submitted offered since the scheme started accepting applications.
Secretary of State for Food and Farming, Thérèse Coffey, said: “I am delighted by the number of agreements that are already in place for the 2023 Sustainable Farming Incentive and that farmers are now being paid. I encourage all farmers to get involved and see what the scheme can offer your farm business.
“We are engaging with farmers and taking onboard their feedback to continually improve the scheme, including delivering on our commitment to introduce early payments and taking steps to simplify the application process.”
From the end of this week, the majority of farmers will no longer need to submit registrations of interest and will be able to apply directly online. Those farming on commons should continue to express their interest with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) who can support them to get ready to apply.
Paul Caldwell, Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency said: “We understand the importance of cashflow for farmers and hope the measures we have taken will assist in making a difference at an important time.
“We are continuing to work hard on getting more and more farmers involved in SFI.”
The 2023 offer has been expanded and made more flexible in response to farmer feedback with over 23 paid-for actions now on offer including improving hedgerows, nutrient management, farmland wildlife and low input grassland.
More information on SFI 2023 can be found at: https://farming.campaign.gov.uk