GOVERNMENT moves to limit the amount of land farmers can put into environmental schemes should reduce concerns about UK food security, said MP Ian Liddell-Grainger. 

Ministers are placing a cap of 25 per cent of any farm that can be included in six categories under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).

The measure comes in response to floods of applications for the scheme, currently seen as offering better financial prospects than actually farming the land.

Ministers say some farmers have been putting more land than was intended into the programme with the risk of reducing food production to precariously low levels.

Some 15,000 applications for the scheme have been received already and 14,000 approved for measures such as wild flower planting, providing winter bird food, and taking field margins and corners out of production.

Mr Liddell-Grainger, who represents West Somerset but is standing in Tiverton and Honiton constituency at the next General Election, said it was encouraging that so many farmers had applied to join the SFI.

He said: “I am aware land agents have been urging farmers to put land into these schemes because they offer a guaranteed income.

“But I am glad Ministers have accepted the primary purpose of farmland is to produce food, and in the current global climate with all its uncertainties we need to be doing whatever we can to increase our own output.

“I still feel only being 60 per cent self-sufficient in food is not a terribly secure position to be in.”