The application window for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the claim window for existing Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue and Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements opened earlier this week.
Last year, BPS advance payments were made in the summer for the first time to help farmers with their cashflow, with balance payments made from December.
This change to the BPS payment cycle will continue and this year advance payments of around 50% of the total will be made from the start of August 2023, Defra says.
Direct payments, currently paid through BPS, are being phased out through to 2027 as the government introduces the Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMS).
As part of this process, the BPS will be replaced with delinked payments based on a farmer’s average BPS payments for the 2020 to 2022 scheme years.
The payments will be reduced each year as they are phased out. Defra says farmers must claim and be eligible for BPS payments in the 2023 scheme year to receive delinked payments for 2024 to 2027.
Cross compliance will end after the 2023 scheme year and will not apply to delinked payments, the department adds.
For 2023, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has supplemented the existing online claim process for CS with an annual declaration option in cases where no changes are required.
This will be available in the Rural Payments service, with farmers able to generate and submit an automated revenue claim without needing to complete each section of the claim form.
All farmers must submit a claim or annual declaration for CS and ES to receive payment for works carried out in 2023.
Rural Payments Agency (RPA) chief executive, Paul Caldwell said: "I know the importance of cashflow to rural businesses at this time.
"I am pleased that we have continued to achieve a strong performance to help farmers deliver sustainable food production alongside environmental actions to enhance and support nature.
"I encourage all eligible farmers to submit their applications and claims as soon as possible to ensure that no one misses out.
In January, the government set out its plans on an expanded Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and CS, as well as increased payment rates through CS and a new SFI Management Payment worth up to £1,000 to help manage costs.
The schemes include six further SFI standards, which will be open for applications this summer.