21 Jun 2023
by Andrew Pearson, Oli Hill

Defra's Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023 guidance and extra actions welcomed by AIC


A revised Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) 2023 offer with additional actions for farmers to chose from has been announced by the Government today (21 June), along with fresh guidance.

In total, 23 actions have been unveiled by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) covering existing themes around soil health and moorlands, plus new actions on hedgerows, integrated pest management, nutrient management, farmland wildlife, buffer strips, and low input grassland. 

Farmers receive payments for taking actions deemed to support food production and improve farm productivity and resilience, while protecting and improving the environment.

Participants are encouraged to select individual actions which suit their farm under a more flexible “pick ‘n’ mix” approach. The updated options will start accepting applications in a rollout from August.

Welcome clarity

Andrew Pearson, the Agricultural Industries Confederation's (AIC) Environmental Policy Manager, said: "We welcome these extra SFI actions and the much-needed clarity on the scheme that Defra has now shared with the industry.

"The SFI 2023 handbook published today provides the further information that the industry really needs, setting out the options, payment rates and criteria for farmers to join the scheme."

Visit the GOV.UK website to view the SFI 2023 handbook and find further details.

Top payments for qualified advice

In January Farming Minister Mark Spencer MP announced forthcoming new standards, and promised a prospectus detailing how the scheme will be run from now on.

In a move welcomed at the time by AIC, the 2023 standards see farmers paid £989/year to take BASIS-qualified advice on IPM - the top payment available under the scheme.

Meanwhile getting a nutrient management review from a FACTS-qualified advisor qualifies farmers for a £589/year payment, an action Defra says can reduce carbon emissions, improve the natural environment and cut farmers’ costs.

Defra Minister Mark Spencer MP

Farming Minister Mark Spencer MP said: “After listening to extensive feedback from farmers, we’ve done a huge amount to streamline and improve the Sustainable Farming Incentive, making it as simple and flexible as possible for farmers to engage with, apply for and embrace. 

“We want farmers to be able to access a package that works best for them. The scheme will remain flexible to allow for the changing needs and requirements of both farmers and their markets to ensure the best outcomes for food production and the natural environment.”


Andrew Pearson

Andrew Pearson

Policy Manager, AIC

[email protected]
07464 540421

Read lessmore

Oli Hill

Oli Hill

Communications Manager, AIC

As Communications Manager, Oli creates and oversees the content published on AIC's website, emails, Member briefings, print publications, and social media.

A qualified multimedia journalist, he previously spent six years working at Farmers Weekly magazine as a Senior Reporter on the arable team, and latterly as Community Editor. More recently he was Communications Manager at Red Tractor.

[email protected]
01733 385230

Read lessmore