The government has announced a cap on the amount of land that can be taken out of food production under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).

Defra has announced that new SFI applicants will only be able to put 25% of their land into the six actions on Monday. 

According to Defra, some farmers entered large amounts of land into these schemes, and therefore taking away land used for food production. The government has made the changes to 'support farmers to produce food sustainably alongside improving the environment'. 

Defra has said that after feedback from the farming community, they have realised there is a need to put in place some 'targeted restrictions'. 

The six SFI actions that will take land out of direct food production are: 

  • Flower-rich grass margins   
  • Pollen and nectar flower mix   
  • Winter bird food on arable and horticultural land   
  • Grassy field corners and blocks   
  • Improved grassland field corners or blocks out of management   
  • Winter bird food on improved grassland

Mark Spencer, farming minister, said:  “Food production is the primary purpose of farming and today we are taking action to clarify this principle.   

“The six actions we are capping were always intended to be implemented on smaller areas of land, and these changes will help to maintain this intention and continue our commitment to maintain domestic food production.”