SFI 2023 has been expanded to offer improved flexibility for farmers allowing them to choose what combination of ‘pick and mix’ actions they want to do and the area/length for each action. The Rural Payments Agency has confirmed that it will be contacting farmers from yesterday (30 August) to register interest for the SFI 2023 offer and that farmers will be able to sign up for new agreements from 18 September 2023.
The new SFI offer comprises 23 actions with more actions due to be introduced so that a full set is available by the end of 2024. Details on the additional actions will be available later in the year. A link to the current handbook is here.
There are no minimum or maximum areas or mandatory combinations of actions. A farmer can apply for an SFI agreement if they are eligible for BPS and they expect to have management control of the land for the duration of the 3-year SFI agreement.
The payment rates for actions mirror those available through the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme. However, the SFI offer expands on these, allowing for additional actions on the same area. For example, SFI allows additional actions to be added to CS hedgerow options that increase the payment per metre.
Applications for the SFI can be made at any time. Land in existing agri-environmental scheme agreements such as Countryside Stewardship can be entered into SFI if the activities being paid for under each scheme are compatible and there is no double funding for similar activities or outcomes on the same area of land.
A management payment of £20 per hectare for up to 50 hectares of land entered in SFI is available and will provide up to £1,000 per year to cover the administrative costs of participation. This will be applied to new and existing agreements.
If you would like to discuss SFI 2023 or are interested in submitting an application, please get in touch.
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