Farmers who have a live Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) 2023 agreement before the end of the year will receive an accelerated payment in the first month of their agreement, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed.

Defra said the payment date has been brought forward “in recognition of the challenges faced with inflation and rising input costs”.

The SFI is currently accepting expressions of interest and will start accepting applications from September 18.

The department had been criticised for a potential delay in payments due to the roll out of the scheme being pushed back.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said that delays in SFI coincide with reductions in Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments which it said would leave farmers facing a “double whammy in the run-up to Christmas”.

Mark Tufnell, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has welcomed the acceleration of SFI 2023 payments.

“This meaningful package of support will provide further reassurance to farmers concerned about their cashflow, and will give confidence that the SFI is worth entering into,” he said.

“The CLA continues to engage robustly but constructively with Defra in pursuit of environmental schemes that work for farm businesses, food security and the environment,” he added.


The SFI is one of the government’s post-Brexit farming schemes. It pays farmers for actions that manage land in a way that improves food production and is environmentally sustainable.

Payments under the scheme for 2023 were set to be made every three months; in SFI 22, payments were made mid-way though the fourth month after the start date of the agreement. SFI agreements do not all start on a single date.

Farmers with agreements will also receive payment to cover one on-farm visit each year to review the health and welfare of livestock.