The roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) 2023 offer has suffered continued delays. As of 30 August, farmers and land managers in England can register their interest in the scheme, and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will begin to invite applications from 18 September.
The pace of the roll out from 18 September onwards depends on how well the automated application system stands up to testing, which began in earnest this week. Current expectations are that the first to receive ‘live’ SFI 2023 agreements in early October will receive their first quarterly payment in January 2024.
At this stage, individual businesses do not know when they will be invited to apply. However, advice from the RPA is that most businesses submitting an expression of interest should expect to be invited to apply within four weeks.
Reacting to the news, CLA President Mark Tufnell said:
"The Country Land and Business Association shares the deep frustration many will feel at further delays to the rollout of SFI 2023.
“However, after years of intense negotiations now is not the time to undermine the progress we have made. In a similar vein, given the importance of securing a long-term budget for the sector, we don’t want to undermine confidence in the direction of travel - particularly if it results in farmers being discouraged from entering into the schemes themselves."
We encourage all farmers across England to register their interest and be ready to apply as soon as the application window is open
“The CLA is doing what we have done since the beginning – working tirelessly behind the scenes to influence Defra on both the substance and the delivery of these schemes. Defra Ministers and officials, and the Rural Payments Agency, are clear about our concerns, and the urgency of the task. Our message is to ‘get on with it’, and we will continue to be constructive in pursuit of schemes that work for farm businesses, our national food security, the environment and our wildlife.”