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DEFRA cap six SFI actions which take land out of food production

Robert Sullivan, Head of Farm Business at GSC Grays, believes Defra’s decision to limit the impact of land being taken out of food production under its Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) could be followed by further changes in farming policies.

Defra have announced that new SFI applicants will only be able to put 25% of their land into six actions that take it out of food production. The move comes after around 1% of farmers that applied to SFI 2023 applied to put 80% or more of their farm into six non-productive actions.

Robert Sullivan said: “Some of the unintended consequences of the SFI scheme have been exacerbated by the economic climate and poor weather, as farmers seek to de-risk their businesses.  This variation from Defra could be one of more changes to follow and reaffirms our advice that farmers should take up these schemes while they are available.

“The announcement may be of concern to farmers who have made changes to their farming practices under their SFI agreement for options that may not be available in three years.

“Those farmers who have already made significant changes to their farming practices to achieve the outcomes of the scheme now have the opportunity to utilise the options they have entered into to ensure their land is in better condition to come back into agricultural production at the end of the 3 year agreement”.

SFI pays farmers to take actions that improve the environment alongside food production. The government has already received over 15,000 applications with more than 14,000 agreement offers issued.

Defra said it will cap the six actions in order to support farmers’ primary role of food production. These include flower-rich grass margins, pollen and nectar flower mix, winter bird food on arable and horticultural land and grassy field corners and blocks.

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Nicolle Hamilton
Marketing & Communications Director

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